Sofyan Aswad: Sofyan Aswad: ”My homesickness has completely changed focus”
Six years in exile, and I was unwilling to admit: No, I don't feel any nostalgia, and I'll never go back to my native country where the only things to thrive and spread are death and injustice. I don't feel nostalgia any more, I don't feel it in my heart, and I can breathe freely.
I believe that everyone who goes to live abroad sometimes feels a twinge of homesickness.
”I never for one moment imagined that I was having to say goodbye to every street”Sofyan Aswad
I left in 2014, when I fled from Aleppo to Beirut. I never for one moment imagined that I was having to say goodbye to every street, every corner full of memories and every syringia tree whose perfume I used to breathe in.
We had to leave in a hurry. Our only thought at that time was to get out of Aleppo without being hit by the regime's bullets.
”Where I know what it means to live in freedom and justice”Sofyan Aswad
This Christmas I visited my mother and two brothers in France. We hadn't met for more than two years. I was really longing to see them. When I was there I realised that it isn't Syria I miss, but I miss Sweden. The country where I've spent my finest years, where I know what it means to live in freedom and justice.
The country that has given me all my human rights and protected me from the authoritarianism of a criminal regime which follows its opponents everywhere.
”During my time in France I felt nostalgic about everything”Sofyan Aswad
No matter how far away a person travels, and no matter how many countries all over the world he visits, he will never be able to find anything kinder or warmer than the embrace of his mother-country, many people say.
But my homesickness has completely changed focus.
During my time in France I felt nostalgic about everything. I missed Sweden every single day, I felt that I belong to this beautiful country, felt that I am part of this beautiful country.
In went to IKEA to drink some Swedish coffee, but it didn't taste at all like it does here.
””Accepted – Thank you'” in Swedish . I was delighted, and began to thank everyone in Swedish.”Sofyan Aswad
I tried to find all the Swedish words I could to translate for my family.
We did some shopping. When I entered the PIN-code on my credit card to pay for what I'd bought, it said ”Accepted – Thank you'” in Swedish (Godkänt. Tack”) . I was delighted, and began to thank everyone in Swedish.
My mother said she didn't understand Swedish, but she and my brothers smiled in any case. And they all say ”Hej,hej” just like in Sweden.
In my case it is perhaps also about longing for what I know, a familiar system, one I understand.
”You long to come home to your simple, well-organised daily life”Sofyan Aswad
Even in a European country like France there are cultural and organisational difference. Sometimes you find it irritating that nothing seems to start on time, or that the language barrier can lead to misunderstandings. You long to come home to your simple, well-organised daily life.
Perhaps I had a slight feeling of loss for people who are still living in my former homeland, for certain kinds of food, for my old room. But it doesn't hurt any more.