When I return home...

When I return home, I don’t go anywhere. There are no tickets, travel and trudging through airports.

I close my eyes, and I am there.

The small house, its sloping driveway where I scuffed knees and palms. A wooden door, slotted into an archway, where I once watched the moon eclipse with my mother – huddled up in blankets. A midnight treat, just the two of us.

The melodious call to prayer floating down from the high towers, through the hot days and the cool nights. A song so familiar, that I sing along mimicking the foreign yet familiar sounds.

My blond hair, curled up tight in ringlets would be pulled and stretched and rubbed for good luck. Cheeks were pinched. Hard. I was told it was a good thing. Then why did it feel so terrible?

Towering mountains and sand dunes that stretched for miles

The orange burnt ember of sun as it would settle down. Even our moon felt different.

The playground of my school, where I would ask the boys if they wanted to see roses and then I would lift up my skirt and showing them my flower patterned knickers.

Camels in beauty contests, their long lashes and soft lips.

Our beach we camped on a hundred times or more. Up winding, treacherous mountain roads. Down winding, treacherous mountain roads. A bumpy, white knuckle ride lasting hours. And hours.

Which fortunately paid off when you would arrive. Turquoise ocean, white sand and jet black rocks.

It would be you, and nobody else. For days.

A foreign tongue surrounded me. One that still provides comfort and familiarity, even though I have no understanding of it.

I was a child in a culture that didn’t belong to me.

At the time, too young, and too immersed in the moment to fully appreciate what a special childhood this was. The extraordinary was my ordinary.

When I return for real, the country has changed.

But if I close my eyes, if I squint, I can see it.

The place that was my home.

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