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Episode 6 - This week Nabs is reminded of home / 13 August 2012

A frame from the O'Crypes cartoon strip - 6

A frame from the O'Crypes cartoon strip - 6

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Mum told me about this programme she’d heard on the radio: Poetry 2012 - The Power of the Poem.

A Jamaican poet, Kei Miller, and the Director of the Scottish Poetry Library, Robyn Marsack, discussed a project the library has set up for 2012. Every nation taking part in the Olympics, all 204, are represented by a poem.

I thought of my own nation. Syria. How I miss you! How afraid I am for you! How afraid I am for myself!

I cannot say how I came here. That would be to betray too many people. But my final station on this journey came about thanks to Gramps. He was a shop steward when he was a miner, and has long taken an interest in asylum speakers. “Well,” he says, “look what they did to the miners in this country. They’ve been looking for scapegoats ever since they got rid of us. Looking out for the likes of you, Nabs – it’s the least I can do.”

Such kindness

Brad let me use his computer to look for the poem on the website’s library for Syria. The poem there was Sleep: To My Grandfather by Lina Tibi.

I read the poem and thought of my own grandfather. I do not even know if he is alive or dead…

These lines in particular made me think of him:

We’ll hear many stories about you,
we who stayed up any evenings
to hear your tales of demons, cats and grandmothers.

The days will not change us much
because your tenderness will stay with each of us,
we who often ate the products of your hands’ hard work
and whom you often distracted with flowers and basil on our balcony,
we who loved you.

Brad came into my room. I think he might have heard me. “What’s up, Nabs?” he said. I told him I miss my country, my family, my friends. He thought for a moment. Then he said, “I miss my legs, I miss being able to walk, to run around, to kick a ball. But that doesn’t mean I’m any less me. What we miss we sometimes have to learn to live without. Sometimes we might get them back; sometime we won’t.”

There was a silence then. I looked into Brad’s eyes. This stranger from a foreign country was trying to help me. I know that he and his family have their own problems. But my heart lifted a little. What is happening in Syria is terrible. My people are being slaughtered as the world looks the other way, at the Olympics, or their holiday brochures, or their smartphones.

But I know what is happening. Slaughter. Murder. Death.

But this young man and his family – they stand for something else.

Brad smiled and I tried to smile too.

“Nabs,” he said. “Last summer this country erupted into riots. For nearly a week it was like a civil war. There’s still a lot of crap going on. I reckon Jood getting her benefits cut is just the tip of the iceberg. But we can fight them. And we can win. We must win.”

I nodded and said thanks. And once he’d left the room I turned back to the poem: “Tomorrow in time/the morning will come.”

Simple words, written before trouble came to our door. But what else do I have only my faith in poetry and in people like the O’Crypes and their son Brad?

To go directly to the Crippen cartoon strip accompanying this blog, please click here.

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