This is an essay/story that I had written for Queen’s commonwealth and won the bronze medal for. It is on the topic ‘let them in’ and is based on the Syrian Refugee crisis. It is a topic I have thoroughly researched and hence is very close to my heart.
Topic 1- let them in
Was this it? Had he reached where his uncle and he set out for? Was this utopia?
A large crowd of refuges stood at the border of salvation. After having walked for what seemed to Nizar, a million days and finally, here he was in Germany.
Nizar was a twelve year old child whose life had mostly been unaffected by the war that plagued his country. That was until a certain fateful day, when a conflict broke out near his village. He was returning from school with his six year old sister when he heard gunshots.
This caused a stampede among the school children as they feared what was behind them. They had all heard stories of it.
This stampede’s confusion separated the two siblings from each other. Nizar’s sister had left his hand due to the rushing mass of people. It took him some time to realize that his sister’s hand was not holding his anymore and in that moment, he panicked.
He did not care for the gunshot, he did not care for his life, he ran against the flow of panic stricken bodies to search for his sister. The path was wide enough to only let two files of people walk abreast and now because of the stampede there were four people running abreast for their lives which left little space for Nizar to run.
“AMENA!” he called out getting no response.
Once the torrent of bodies cleared, what he saw was horrific. On the ground were bodies of those who couldn’t keep up. Battered and red. Nizar hadn’t seen so much blood ever before in his life.
It flowed like a river on the pathway. Nizar wanted to run, but he had to stay. It took him an immense amount of courage to stop himself from running away. He hoped that his sister would not be found here, he hoped that staying here would turn out to be a waste of time.
He searched the bodies walking towards the gunshot was heard. She was not there, he sighed, relieved. A second gunshot sounded this time much closer than the last. This made Nizar run towards the safety of his village.
He ran as fast as he could towards his village, where his parents awaited him and hopefully so did his sister. They could run away together and seek refuge elsewhere. That thought made him feel slightly better than before.
That was when he tripped off something falling face first into the mud. He pushed himself up to his knees and realized that he was the only one that remained.
He scrambled up to his feet to start running again. He was close enough to the village now, back to safety.
Boom! Nizar’s ears popped as he fainted from the pressure he had suddenly felt. When he came to, and his eyes opened, he was faced with destruction.
He did not understand what had happened. As he tried to get on his feet, he fell back down. He breathed hard gasping for air.
“I can’t accept this” he said as he laid back on his back.
He closed his eyes hoping that when he wakes up, he is in his classroom asleep because it is boring. However when he opened his eyes, nothing had changed. He wasn’t dreaming.
He got to his feet and walked slowly, afraid of what he might face once he enters the cluster of destroyed houses. He noticed that not the whole of the village was destroyed due to whatever they shot. It was only maybe a quarter of the village that had been destroyed, but it was the quarter of the village where he lived.
People scrambled through the wreckage salvaging what they could salvage and saving whomever they could save. He looked around for his family but he found nothing and he found no one. Not his sister, not his mother and not his father. No one. He did not find them alive nor dead.
Devastated, he sat where his house used to be for the whole day. Until night fell, he did not move from his spot two paces away from his house.
The next morning, his uncle who lived nearby found him. Together the two of them ran away from the village conquered by ISIS covertly.
Now, after having traveled for almost a year, Nizar stood so close to his destination. So close to safety that he almost felt as if it was a dream.
His uncle patted him in the back.
“You have done well” he said.
“So have you” Nizar replied.
They smiled to each other. It had been long time since they had done that. For the first half of their journey until the time they reached Europe, they had to always be at their feet trying to escape the terrorists or government officials. Once they arrived in Europe, they were met with the poverty of Greece and then the cold indifference of the Balkans. All of this meant that they rarely ever had the moment of levity that they really needed so very desperately.
He knew how much Amena would have appreciated the greenery of this continent. In whatever direction one looked, they could only see green field of brilliance. She would have loved the cities as well. Their architecture would have really surprised her and excited her.
Tears rolled down his cheeks, she won’t be able to see all of this.
“It is understandable for one to cry in a moment like this” His uncle said.
“I just am saddened by the fact that my family won’t be here to see all of this” he said.
“We do not know what became of them, maybe they are already here waiting for us or maybe they will be here in a weeks’ time” the uncle said.
“I hope so” he replied.
What his uncle did not tell him was that he knew that his parents were dead, he was the one that buried them just before finding Nizar. Amena on the other hand was nowhere to be found. He hoped that she was still alive.
The uncle wiped the tears off of Nizar’s face.
“Let’s go” he said putting his arms around Nizar’s shoulder.
As they crossed the German border, they felt a moment of levity. This was it, this was what they had aspired for the past year.
There, near the border stood a few people welcoming those who had braved such a journey. For them, it was almost a tourist spot.
“We finally did it” said one of the other refugees that had traveled with them. Nizar nodded to the man. His name was Ali, he was from Iraq, another country that went through the terror of ISIS. He belonged to the Sunni minority who was being persecuted. They had spent a considerable amount of time together and now had grown close.
“Germany is exactly as we thought, heaven” Nizar said.
The people welcomed them with smiles on their faces. For some reason, these people had decided to give them something without asking for a lot. Nizar promised that he will pay it back. He will study hard, earn a lot and help the German economy.
They were escorted to a small tent which was to be shared by his uncle and him. They were given a hot meal which Nizar gobbled down with apparent pleasure on his face. That night was the first night that Nizar slept soundly and deeply.
Few weeks had passed since he arrived in Germany. His uncle had found a job in retail in a supermarket nearby. Nizar, due to his uncle earning, started going to a small school nearby which mostly consisted of other refugee children. He seemed to be able gain his lost happiness again as he made new friends and learned new things. He, as quickly as he could, started learning German so that he could talk to the locals.
On that evening he saw two new figures enter the camp. One was a six feet tall man and the other was a little girl who seemed to be no more than seven.
The girl looked confused as she looked side to side trying to take in everything that went on. Nizar at first did not pay much heed to the pair as refugees entered the camp almost every day. However he felt a strange urge to look again and when he did, tears rolled down his cheeks as happiness warmed his heart. His hands shook uncontrollably.
He ran and hugged the little girl holding her tightly. And she hugged him back, seeming to cry as well.
The man that towered over them said “I guess my job here is done” and walked away.
“I will never let go of you ever again, Amena!” he said sobbing loudly.
And in that moment, they knew that Allah was watching over them.
I know it is a long one, so I thank everyone that gave this a read.