By Suha Mirza (11-E),
Stepping out of the airport, my body is not ready for the immediate blast of hot desert air that contrasts the cool winds of Europe immensely. Despite the fact that there was once a time I loathed this heat, this bustle of people and the atmosphere, I smile in serenity. I am home.
The sun beats down on my face, my neck bristling at the intensity of it under my hijab; sweat already starts to form on my brow just as I get into the relieving AC cooled car for the drive back to my childhood home. My brother takes us across the city of Jeddah slowly, occasionally yelling at a passing driver for breaking a traffic rule - even something as simple as that makes me grin at the memories ambushing my mind. The cars travel recklessly, unlike the calm and organised manner in Ireland (but I suppose it has its own charm despite the obvious danger). I spot women in abayas and hijab walking from shop to shop when we pass by the open air Tahlia stores - the men with them groaning for having to accompany them.
The rich aroma of food wafts into the car easily and I remember that it is all halal. I had missed this. I watch as women greet each other with a traditional kiss on each cheek, the exchange of salams and “how are you"s in the musical language of Arabic. The blue sky seems blinding with the sun taking it up like a majestic king looking upon his land - not a single cloud to block any rays as though such things as rebellion do not exist.
There is a certain soothing as well as placid ambience that surrounds Saudi Arabia - a harmony brought forth from the Muslims that live together in peace. Somewhere far off, I hear the athan for prayer emanate everywhere - the sheikh's voice deep and lilting with just enough rasp. “Come to prayer, come to success,” it calls out in Arabic; I almost start bawling right there for how much I had ached to hear the words again.
I think of the desert before my eyes, the loud ruckus of daily life and the people that walk with Islam on their shoulders. I think of the house I will enter once more; the rickety apartment complex that withstands the weight of my childhood. The four pink walls of my room and the chipped ceiling I used to stare at in contemplation during my teenage years - the ceiling and walls that know all of my secrets and embrace them, carefully, like treasure. I think of long nights on the beach barbecuing, of whole days spent in freezing malls, of laughing and chortling with my friends in cafés until we could not breathe. Finally, there is one thought that envelopes my mind, bouncing around my head with joyful disbelief.
This is Home.
Source Link: February Newsletter (2018-2019)