Can’t Breathe, But Now I See Clearly.

Warning: This image may cause a heavy impact in many. Please read the following:

It’s been awhile since my last post on this page. It’s supposed to be a writer’s page, but I guess I haven’t been writing anything for months. I got my mind occupied with other matters; work, new projects (totally unrelated to literature) the routine, family, and so on. I felt empty during that time. I needed to do something, anything, that could make me go back to my calling and purpose; writing about the World Refugee Cause. The truth is that during summer I was working on a new novel related to that subject, but much different than the one that I’ve already published. To those who’ve read it, they can tell that Interview with a Refugee is a deep, true, love story. The second one that I was working on is meant to shed some light on certain unknown communities and tribes from the mountains of Syria, and at the same time raise awareness on more and widely ignored causes. Today, as I write this, I wonder how I could have possibly stopped working on something that meant so much to me, something that really filled me and made me feel like I had a purpose. I mean, why couldn’t I just make a balance between the “day job” and the dream job? It’s like I chose, and I got too busy.

Thankfully, a talented and amazing artist called Adál Maldonado had started a new photography project in which I was definitely compelled to participate; Puerto Ricans Underwater. I went through the photos he’d taken and I found it so creative, daring and unique that I just had to be part of it, but I wanted to do something that would shock my readers and followers, and that it would also awaken me from my self-imposed alienation. I must say, it did.

I said, paraphrasing myself: “I want to portray a refugee woman who never made it across. I’ll use my passport, family photos, letters, anything that can represent all that which is lost at sea…”

He told me I was genius for that idea. And though genius wouldn’t be the word I’d use, I still knew that it would cause an impact in my emotions, and maybe in other people’s too.

When I arrived to his place/studio I was enchanted with all of the art from wall to wall. It was a spacious place, perfect to create, to imagine and dream. I was quickly excited about my shoot, and so was he. We spoke a little while he filled the tub. The water was warm and soothing, as I slowly lied back into it. I wasn’t nervous at all, until a moment later. Damn. I never thought that going underwater for a few seconds would be so difficult.

“It’s like being waterboarded,” he said.

No shit…

The first try was a total fail. I felt the water violently piercing into my nostrils and my body automatically jumped out of that tub.

My eyes were red, and my head was in pain. And those were only 2 seconds.

“Ok, let’s try again,” I said as I regained my consciousness.
It still hurt. But it worked.
I cried. But it had to be done.
I felt helpless, but hey…we got our shot.

2….3…..4 seconds max, and my body couldn’t take it. The pain inside my head was so intense that I could not control the tears and every other secretion coming out of my face.

The feeling of dying for 2 to 4 seconds; a mere, insignificant fraction compared to what thousands of human beings have to endure in order to cross the seas to find a better life.

After this life-changing experiment I know I must continue what I started.

Iraq, you are in my heart.
Assyria, you are part of me.
Syria, you’re not alone.
And the countless communities and groups from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, South America, and so many other regions; we are one and the same.

Thank you, Adál.




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