Trapped Between Borders

April 21, 2018

“Congratulations”, I overheard my mother say ever so enthusiastically to her iPhone. Thoughts of endless possibilities clouded my mind. I wondered what happened and who she was talking to. I didn’t want to interrupt her call to avoid getting lectured so I decided to wait patiently, despite my temptations.


When she finally closed the phone, tears were rolling down her eyes. My heart felt like it stopped and being the pessimistic person I am, I immediately thought of death. Thankfully, I was wrong. It was birth. And the tears, they were tears of joy. My dear aunt who is from Abu Dhabi gave birth to her very first child. Everyone has long awaited this moment as she was the last to get married. In our Arabian culture, it is unusual for a woman to get married after she reaches her thirties so naturally, we were all excited when we were notified of her pregnancy.
My mother and I conversated about the birth of the new baby and as soon as I asked if she had booked our flight to go visit, she frowned. At first I was confused because I’m so used to traveling to the UAE for special occasions, but then I realized this was no longer a possibility.


The blockade that occurred on June 5th evidently changed my life on a much larger scale than I thought it would’ve. I took the whole situation lightly at the beginning and didn’t think much of it, precisely seeing the crisis as political. Anger filled my serene mind and I felt my body getting tense. My mother only has one sister who finally gave birth after miscarriages and I’m not even going to be able to see the baby. The more I thought of this, the sadder I became.


I opened my phone and received pictures of the baby and saw my Emirati family members surrounding her and felt so excluded. My family always came to support my mother whenever she gave birth, my aunt included, and it broke my heart to realize my aunt couldn’t have her only sister by her side. I’m the eldest niece and my aunt was always there for me, from teaching me math in our regular visits to her hometown to buying me barbie dolls ten years ago when she came to visit from university in Pittsburgh.


I called my beloved aunt and congratulated her but you can’t replace seeing someone in front of you with just hearing their voice. We ended the call with her passionately saying “I wish you were here” and tears streamed down my face, except this time, they weren’t tears of joy. What I took lightly and thought of as merely a political crisis affected me socially as well and this is just one example of many. I’m insanely frustrated at how I can’t go to the UAE simply because I’m a Qatari citizen even though half of my blood is Emirati.


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