Sunday, October 02, 2005

Will I ever belong?

When I think of Libya.. I get an image of a hot hazy place and the image of sand.. the image is blurred and my feelings are uneasy and anxious..

How do you belong to a place that you do not know? And mind you, it is worse when you go there so often than when you've never been.. I've come across many Libyans who were born and raised in Canada who have never been to Libya, they are excited, curious and you can feel the hope in them.. That is good because you can make of it what you wish. For me, I grew up going there once a year so my visits to Libya are tied in with family fueds and mistrust, getting sick from EID meat and being bored out of my mind at home within the confines of our gated villa with no one to play with - I would spend hours staring out the window at the little boys playing soccer on the street on Fridays. How do you belong to people that you do not understand or connect with? You see your family members and as much as you look alike and share your heritage, you still feel so out of place.. and different...

Born and raised in Europe, educated in culturally diverse Geneva with parents that are highly conservative and very proud of their berber (not only Libyan) heritage, I would spend the entire year in Geneva and then spend the summer in Libya. I was two different Nuras. In Geneva, I was "that Muslim girl Nura", constantly explaining to my classmates why I fasted in Ramadan, why my mother wore the veil, why my parents took my out of the compulsary one week field trip, why I didn't go to their parties and why I didn't "date" that boy who liked me while making sure that my tone was confident so did not betray the difficulty I was having. Most were understanding, although you learned to deal with the few "that's stupid" comments.. Then in Libya, I was "that European girl" who was born in Europe, spoke all these different languages but what a shame that I was much more olive-skinned (samra) than my sisters (what a shame, how odd that a girl born and raised in Europe was so dark) and really too chubby for someone living abroad. I would serve drinks, sweets and tea green for daddy and mommy's guests, smile very warmly at everyone because we wanted people to "get to know me". They always found a mistake in my Arabic to make fun of or if my Arabic was immaculate, then it was something about the way I looked.

Meeting Libyans abroad, I felt the same thing. Yet the disappointment was surprising the the hope of making Libyan friends quickly began to diminish. Everytime my father met someone new I would ask the famous question "Does he have any daughters my age???". It was a quiet desperation of connecting with someone.. meeting someone who understands. The girls I did meet were either way too liberal - doing all the things I would explain to my classmates and friends that I couldn't - or just too.. Libyan (adhering to all the social practices that I just don't understand or like). Even up until this day, at aged 23.. I have only come across a handful of Libyans in my life that I feel like I would want to deepen my interaction with.

I never really fit in anywhere.. just had to adapt to wherever I was and find my own sense of identity. I read it somewhere that being unique is a lonely prospect, and I can't agree more.

Still, one day.. I'd like to belong.. I want to feel such excitement when I say "I'm going home" and mean Libya and not Switzerland. I want to be able to make some sort of a difference to that place.. to put my education to good use so that my little baby cousins and all the children are hopeful about their future.. instead of repeating their parents' dialogue and growing up with so much cynicism.. and mostly so that my children are truly proud of their heritage, instead of making excuses for it. I want to feel like I have a home.


At 7:09 AM, Blogger removedalready said...

It is a beautiful entry. It is never easy being brought up in another country. You feel as if you don't belong here nor there! Life is like that, I guess.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Highlander said...

Nura ...that was an excellent post and I identified with a lot of it so I know exactly what you mean. One difference though I have no berber heritage , yet everyone in Libya thinks I am berber because of my pale colour how strange mish hikki ? Oh I'm so glad you decided to blog. When are you moving to Canada ? I'm currently visiting in the UK so won't be home till about a month..Don't worry there are many like you and me I've discovered so many of us . By the way Smokey_spice from the blog the 3rd space would be a Libyan like us ;) fhamti shinu nuksud wala la'? and Tyeness from the Dunia blog as well and Tareq ...aaah all the Libyan bloggers are cool ..while the non-libyan ones who like them are just as cool he he he yeah the Libyan connection on my sidebar is the place to go. Seek them and you will have tons of fun inshallah .

Shereen ..I agree 100%

At 2:04 PM, Blogger Nura said...

Aren't you two just the sweetest little ladies. Thank you. I am starting to realize that there is an entire blogworld out there that I wasn't aware of!!! At this rate, I will never leave my laptop.. no no I must resist!

Why don't we have a sort of Libyan Bloggers forum or something? I'd love to connect.. meet more of us and get feedback on certain things I wonder about.. Anyhow, thanks for your comfort and comments!!


At 5:32 PM, Blogger Highlander said...

Check your offline messages Nura :)

At 10:06 AM, Blogger .e!manie. said...

lol i love it. welcome to the blogging SCENE. :) MWAH.

At 6:14 PM, Blogger Hannu said...

Hi Nura! I believe we have crossed paths in the late 80s. You were very young then, if it was really you.

I hear ya... the desire to belong! Very enjoyable reading, keep blogging.

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Highlander said...

this world is soooooooooo small after all

At 8:26 PM, Blogger aisha said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger aisha said...

nura...mashaAllah you are a talented writer. I can totally relate to you in the post you have written, except for me, because of my 'liberal western mentality' my relatives always think I'm showing off, because '3aysha barra'. However I am starting to slowly drift away from thinking of Libya as my home. Its really sad, but I think I am turning into one of those cynics you speak about. Although I love my Libyan heritage, I love our dialect of Arabic, our culture, our connection with one another, I am really moving towards viewing myself as a Muslim Canadian with a Libyan background...and unfortunatley as of now without a Libyan future. If I ever move to Libya on a permanent basis (which I am not planning to do) I will come back and spend my summers in Canada, InshaAllah.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Hannu said...

The world is small indeed, HL. I have known Nura when she was 7 till 10 years old! Such an adorable cute little girl she was... and what a fine young lady she turned out to be! It is so nice to reconnect, on a different level now if you know what I mean, more like peers. What a delight!

At 8:33 PM, Blogger Nura said...

Aisha! Welcome to my little blog.. glad I motivated you to start one up of your own! Sometimes you feel like you can be two different people with completely different needs and wants.. I sense a resistance in myself.. part of my pulling away from being Libyan and avoiding all that heartache and the other part of wanting to badly to meet Libyans and feel a part of that community.. It ebbs and flows.. I just wish I would stop feeling this void!

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Nura said...

Hanu, what a pleasure it has been to catch up with you again! Quite delightful.. :o) Hana forgets to mention that not only was I adorable and cute.. but I was quite the round little ball when she knew me. Laugh. Amazing how life is and the random ways we reconnect after all these years! Looking forward to keeping in touch..

At 10:30 PM, Blogger Jamz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Hiba said...

hi all..
i Really like the way that you tried to explan your feeling by long post..
i never have you re feeling..
Becoues im living here on "libya-Tripoli".and i was wishing if i have chance to go out and living away coues that such of bad things we heard and saw around from the goverments,but..last year when my sister got marriged and went to live with her husband on london..
i felt so bad..coues she went away of my eyes ..
and i saw how is diffcult to leave the family that i grwoing with them,the friends that hurts me and the friends that loved me and i loved...
the places that i went to ..when i was a child ..
lovely memories..on diffrent ages..
My sister wasnt` thinking to come to live with her husband on libya,coues they dont` see any kind of change or futuer with hight level.,she said she wont` come back to libya or she wont miss it..
But on the first call from my sister;she said i miss you all

and after a month , she called us to say: i started feeling boring..
staying home long time my husband away..and no friends ,no family,
i miss walking on the Tripoli streets..

and last sebtember she came to vist us..she stayed on london 10 months..!
she coulndt` help herself to stand front of her feeling..

i only can say that Tripoli .libya is my heart..,she is Pulsing stronger into my heart..

i can look to libya to Tripoli by my more hope..
that i can do new thing to make it look more good lovely..
without stoping on all these bad stuff ..from The Goverment..
if i went away...and being an american..and give everything to america..and saying that i willnt` back to libya coues i cant` have normal life on it..coues the govrement..and that things..
i cant` desrev to be a libyan..or to be bored of what im as libyan girl..
being a libyan or tripolian person..move you to give your country your heart,your mind,your love as long as you meet such bad guys..and unless selvies guys..

loving libya or tripoli or banghaziy the right way to stop that many Qoustions to go out, or to know about that place you never visit..
why father annd mother were so selfish, yeh they re selfish..
i know many libyan were born away of living for long times and they came to libya visiting them families.and going to see libyan cities..why you dont` ask your father for that..
why they give you all your freedom to go out home alone..and satying out home for long time till the night..and travle to any country,Excpet Libya!!!???!
i have many words to say,please forgive me if i got nerves but.. imot trying to hurt you guys..
but..being on libya give you chance to see things with another look from that your father or mother or ameircan Tv showing on them news!?



Post a Comment

<< Home