Stories My Grandmother Told Me – 37

Your father didn’t tell us he was going to Australia. He talked about going somewhere, but I had never heard of Australia. I thought Australia was some place just across the mountains.

I asked my nephew, Sharif, about this place. He said it was a big big country that was far far away. He said the refugees were going there but not everyone made it there. He said that people spent up to 3 weeks on water, crossed jungles, and that it was a dangerous journey.

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I was terrified. I pleaded with Sharif to remind your father of the dangers. I begged him to stop your father from going. He said he would try.

Then the day came. He left. We wept. He told me not to worry and told us all to look after one another. From Autumn that year to the following Spring we had no information about him, his whereabouts, or whether he still lived. Some people even started terrible rumors about his safety. I chose not to believe them. I did not want to believe them. I believed my son was alright wherever he was. I prayed for him everyday.

A few months later, I overheard women from our street talking about a boat sinking, and people drowning. They said those who drowned were Hazaras. Darkness fell upon my eyes. I immediately got up and returned home. I asked around if anyone knew anything else. Some relatives told me not to worry as these were other people. Nonetheless, I wept all afternoon, and did not sleep that night. There was nothing we could do.

In the Spring of that year, some time after Nowruz, Moallem called from Iran. He said he had heard about your father, and that he was fine. It made me very happy, but also perplexed. I was concerned as to why he wasn’t getting in touch with us. I wept.

A few months later, a man came over from Marriabad and said they had heard from their relative in Australia. He had met your father and had passed to us greetings from him. I was overjoyed, but even more perplexed and terrified as to why he wasn’t getting in touch with us.

A few months later, just days before the Eid that year when we were preparing Bosragh when I heard the door knock. The kid from the house next door stood at the door with a phone in his hand. He handed me the phone, and on the other side, I heard your father’s voice. I screamed out of joy. I could barely speak. He was alive, and speaking to me. It was him. I passed it to you. You screamed and cried your eyes out. Then your mother, and the others. We were happy.

A few weeks later, your uncle returned home, and said he had received a letter from your father. We were excited, and all gathered around uncle to listen to him read the letter. In his letter your father had written of his year in detention in the desert, his journey through the jungle, his encounter with wild animals and the possibility of death. He said they were being kept in a place in the desert that was cut off from the rest of the world. There were snakes and dangerous things all around their camp. They were in a prison. Our happiness quickly turned into sadness and tears. Your uncle couldn’t read any more of the letter. He folded it up and, we all cried.

A long time later, we received another call, and another letter. We found out that he had been released and lived in a city. He sent us his photos. And I saw my son for the first time in years. I was happy. We were all happy.



*Bosragh = A traditional cake

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