Sunday, November 20, 2005

Dear Amman...


On November 9th, when I heard about the triple bombings in Amman, Jordan, I did not know quite how to feel. In many ways, it just seemed surreal. For the next few days after the bombing, I felt very much at unease, but could not quite place my finger as to what was bothering me. Last week, it finally hit me: since I have moved to DC, my sense of coherence – both physically & emotionally – has been shattered in many ways.

Firstly, since it has been a few years since 9/11, I had finally acquired a sense of security that has been broken many times this year from the bombings in London to the latest one in Jordan. In addition, although moving away from home and living in the nation's capital has been exciting & eye opening, it has been an emotional year for me, and I am just beginning to realize it. Last year, although I had not yet graduated & did not have a job, I had established a lifestyle and a comfort zone that made sense to me. However in the past few months, things that were so clearly "right" or "wrong" before seem a lot more ambiguous. And although I cherish my experiences in DC, I am craving for the coherence about my world that I seemed to have just a year ago.

Below, is how I decided to deal with my sadness about the tragic bombings in Amman….

Dear Amman,

It's been a while since I have written you. How are you? I hear you got sick with the bug that has been going around for a while now. I was hoping you would not catch it, but I guess in my heart, I knew it was only time before you were affected by it.

As soon as I heard that you had been hurt, my mind went to all the people I know who live with you and I frantically text messaged them praying they were all okay. I was relieved when they responded saying they were shaken but safe.

In the past, whenever I thought about you, my face would light up with a smile as I remembered the fond memories I have of you. It was during my stay with you that I learned the true meaning of independent traveling, Arab hospitality and delicious Arab food other than hummus and shawarmas.

However, now, whenever I think of you, I am filled with sadness and my eyes swell up with tears. My friends and I used to talk about how living with you was so safe that we sometimes forgot you live so close to Israel, Palestine, Syria, Iraq & Saudi Arabia. It is hard for me to believe that the streets I walked on, the weddings I attended and restaurants I visited are now considered fair targets of terror.

I once learned that before you were named Amman, you were called Philadelphia – city of brotherly love – and it makes me feel better. It gives me hope that all the people who were affected by this horrible incident will come together and seek to heal their wounds collectively. I am sure you're going through a really rough time and I hope you feel better soon.

As I end this letter to you, I can still hear the sound of prayer from the mosques, the honking of the taxis, the smell of fresh bread in the morning, the blaring notes by Amr Diab and the sound from the gas trucks announcing their arrival.

You will always hold a very special place in my heart. And I pray that the disturbing pictures I saw of you recently that are stuck in my head will be soon replaced again by the happy memories I have of you.

Take care.

Luv 'n' regards,

Fatema