Passports

We are all, by some means, loyal. To someone, to something, to an idea, or a place. We belong by natural disposition to something of our choosing, hence defining and defending our restrictions in case any insurgence should occur. In a civilised world, most of us (I’m looking at you, Kuwait) have passports that tie us to certain cultures despite our unwillingness to adhere to them. We are children of that land, that is the basis of the system. Problematically, however, for citizens of wonderful Arabia, this appears to not be the case. Whatever land you were born on is of no concern, the real concern is “where can we dump you?”

I’m legally Yemeni, as Yemeni as Yemen gets. My passport is navy blue with a hawk or an eagle or whatever that squinting bird in gold is. I speak my dialect fluently, a gift of my culturally-proud parents. I’m even marginally good at Yemeni cuisine, something I never thought I’d need to learn because, well, I’m also Saudi. I’m Saudi in the sense that I was born here, Saudi in the sense that I’ve lived nearly 25 years here, Saudi in the sense that I’m more familiar with sand than I am with greenery, Saudi in the sense that I have to ask my mother about Yemen when I effortlessly know the littlest of things about life here, in Saudi.

And so, my loyalties are hazy for I love Yemen. I love Yemen, with its poverty and insufficient infrastructure, its perfect weather, divine architecture and otherworldly scenery, its generosity, hospitality, and wonderful food, Yemen has captivated me. But Saudi has always been home, I can navigate through Riyadh (via driver) with incredible ease, even mastering the detour maze where I insistently fail a simple left turn behind my house in Yemen.

My loyalties are hazy, and have always been dormant, but now they’re not. They’re tested, tortured. Stretched from extremity to extremity to the point of laceration. Bombed in instalments of 1200 air raids so far that set the cities alight. Terrorised every night for the past 2 weeks dusk till dawn. Annihilated. Demolished. Devastated.

It is very easy to point your finger at an Apache, ripping your sky up in half in patronising force. It’s even easier to parade that force in a relaxed air of military supremacy, like a lion strutting out in the afternoon to stretch. It’s somewhat difficult, though, to lie in the lion’s den and cry for it to come back home.

My loyalties take no hue, they’re not leather-bound pages of pride. They’re words of plea away from rubble, glass, and blood.

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Passports