Diaries of a Refugee - Part I
The great emperor of ancient Rome, Julius Caesar, had several politicians employed under his rule - the most loyal of which was Brutus. As many know, in the year 44 BC, senator Gaius Cassius Longinus instigated a conspiracy to kill Caesar in the Senate chamber. Indeed, he was successful in recruiting chief assassins - and they carried out the plot and stabbed Caesar to death. It is said that Caesar, while dying from the wounds inflicted on his body, recognised his loyal friend and protege, Brutus, and, shocked to see him not only among the assassins but as one of their leaders, said the last words: “Even you, Brutus?”
Although it is likely that Caesar never said these words, the phrase has become synonymous for betrayal and is hence used to describe the pain of being stabbed in the back by ones closest, most loyal friends.
The day I got my residency in and ID card, as well as the Health insurance card, I was happy and excited. I wanted to tell some of my friends of the news, so I sent them pictures of these two cards on WhatsApp - assuring them that I was doing good, as they had been very concerned for me. I received tons of messages congratulating me. All my friends were happy for me - all except one - I will not mention his name -, who only wanted to rub salt on my wounds instead. When he replied, there was not a word of support, no relief or joy. He replied only with these words: “All this is worthless as long as you’re called a Refugee”.
This friend thought that I was showing off, or being proud of my Asylum somehow, so he said what he said.
I felt really sad.
Yes, I am a refugee - but I got security and protection.
Yes, I am a refugee - but I am no longer afraid of being arrested.
Yes, I am a refugee - but I am no longer worried of being kidnapped and murdered by the secret services.
Yes, I am a refugee - but I am no longer terrified that my wife or daughter will be kidnapped and raped - god forbid.
Yes, I am a refugee - but thieves and criminals can no longer violate the sanctity of my house to rob it.
Yes, I am a refugee, but I am no longer scared of being intercepted on the way home at a checkpoint, so they steal my money, insult me and slap me.
My friend, you are home - and how precious and beautiful it is. But it’s no longer the home we know. Our home shrinked to become a farm for one certain family and we are like the serpents, with no dignity, no freedom, no glory, no security and no safety. And you blame me - for being a refugee?
Even you, Brutus?
Mustafa Zarzour, *1950, is a retired history teacher. He is from Idlib, Syria, and spent several years working in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. In 2016 he came to Austria and was granted Asylum in 2017. Mustafa lives in Vienna with his wife and youngest daughter.
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