The Syrian civil war began when Suad Aldarra’s family situation was worsening. Her father refuses to accept her mate, Housam, and essentially forces her to choose between them. “While rockets were being fired at another place in Damascus, our house fell apart in a different way. A dictator lived in it, and no matter how loudly we shouted or we fought back, we could only lose.”
o begins the most tumultuous period of Aldarra’s life, as recounted in this memoir. She and her mate left behind their lives in Damascus, including her beloved cat Beso. They marry amid the chaos of war and embark on a journey to Egypt; It is at the same time an escape from conflict and a well-deserved honeymoon. Border crossings, and indeed all immigration and visa operations, are further complicated by Housam’s Palestinian-Syrian identity. Their time in Egypt was exhausting, as they faced difficult living conditions and continued loss. A friend encouraged Aldarra to apply for a job in Galway.
I don’t want to talk about home is a very honest account. Its honesty is open-minded, not always self-flattering, and is sure to connect with readers through the shared experiences of a young woman making her way in the world. Many of the same life experiences we all have – change or not: disappointment with family; figure out what we want to do with our lives; build our network; meet and fall in love with a life partner.
Aldarra’s familiar human story is notable for its backdrop of war and migration. As conflict descended on Syria, she and her loved ones faced heartbreaking decisions and forced separation. Her home in Damascus is destroyed and she and her husband navigate the perilous journey from Syria to find a simple place. it is in – a place that allows them to live, work and build a life together. That last place is Ireland.
Aldarra shares her experience of the migration journey and all the challenges it brings (identity crisis, grief, trauma) as well as what it draws from her (resilience, development, and resilience). personal development, humanities).
She shares how slowly she accepted her own hurt, realizing that her experience was truly remarkable and that it shaped her into who she is. “Years after finding my freedom, I still feel trapped in a box, in my passport,” she wrote. These drive-in moments were so poignant to her: a flight to donate to Syria; a photo exhibition of the war at the Unicef office in New York, where she worked for a year; different reactions to her answer to the question asked by many migrants: “Where are you from?”
Aldarra recounts her childhood in a strict Muslim family. She grew up in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, but her heart belongs to Damascus, where she was born and where she spent her summers. She went back there at age 17 to go to college and have a good time; study computer engineering, write, explore independence from home, meet future husband. All before a sudden war comes to disrupt her happiness and force her to flee.
Seeing Ireland through Aldarra’s eyes reaffirmed that. Compared to her time in Egypt, it was welcoming and friendly. Sometimes it’s weird: “Breakfast looks like dinner, without the condiments and even the tea bags look weird without the strings…”
The country is not without high barriers to integration for Aldarra and her husband, especially in terms of accommodation and employment. Earlier in the book, we learned about the different Islamic traditions in Syria and Saudi Arabia. But it was in Ireland that Aldarra began to seriously question her Muslim culture and what it meant for her.
The rationale for customs such as halal food, headscarf, and many others discovered in the context of their new surroundings as “cultural habits” have questionable logical foundations.
Her tech career took off in Ireland, as she explored new areas of the industry and then entered the humanitarian sector, using her skills to assist in conflict and crisis situations. panic. But splitting her time between New York and Galway was a challenge, putting a strain on her marriage and her health.
Meanwhile, the traumas of what she’s endured surface, messy and incoherent but infiltrate every part of her life. The most emotional moment occurred at a concert by Syrian musician Kinan Azmeh in New York: “We never stopped during those five years to breathe and love, accept what happened. Get out and live with it instead of sweeping it under the rug. “
Video of the day
The words of the late congressman Jo Cox came to mind while reading this memoir: “We are so much more united and have more in common than what divides us.” The similarity in Aldarra’s experience, and how that experience is complicated by her circumstances, will cause the reader to reflect that ‘this could be me’ and, in doing so, hopefully examine their own privileges, attitudes and assumptions about migrants. We must also reflect as a society, rebuilding systems and tearing down barriers that make life difficult for the growing number of displaced people in our world.
Memoir: I Don’t Want to Talk About Suad Aldarra’s House
Double Ireland, 320 pages, paperback € 15.99; eBook £7.99
Sinéad Gibney is the chief commissioner of the Irish Equality and Human Rights Commission
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/book-reviews/i-dont-want-to-talk-about-home-by-suad-aldarra-honest-and-human-story-of-escape-from-syria-to-ireland-41836692.html I Don’t Want To Talk About Suad Aldarra’s Home: The True and Human Story of the Escape from Syria to Ireland