We are Sinking
I did not choose to be born, here of all places, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). My dad is an entrepreneur. He came here because to him the country represented a better opportunity to provide for the family he envisioned to have. Three years into his overseas endeavor, he married my mom. My mom is a dentist. She left her financially sound practice in Egypt and joined him here. By making a decision to move here, my parents valued family above all else, each in their own way. And then I came along.
As the years went by, I decided to leave the UAE to pursue my higher studies elsewhere. I was not satisfied with the options available for me here or back in Egypt so I left for America. My mom came along, but my dad decided to stay. When I was done with my studies I came back for dad. But things had changed. The UAE no longer felt like home, and in what is recognized as a secure environment, I no longer felt secure. No matter how much I tried to adjust to living here, I seem to keep getting confronted with this reality. The question is: why do I keep trying?
I am not back here because the country represents a better opportunity to provide for myself or for the family I envision to have. My dad is now losing rather than making money on his business here, has had to let go of many employees and is about to liquidate his assets. I, on the other hand, continue to live as if in denial. I invested into a home, and invested into a not for profit organization that I set up myself. Do I envision getting married and having kids here? At one point I did, but I no longer do. I continue to live here, not because I see a future for myself, but because I seem to be compelled to create a future for myself here, and it’s not easy.
Everyday I come across fresh off the plane expatriates who seem to be enjoying their time. Every other day I come across UAE citizens who seem to have no idea about the existential dilemma that non-citizens like myself go through. I do not see this country as fertile ground bearing fruits with minimal labor, and I was not born with a right to privileges that cater to every aspect of my living situation, nor am I seeking the same. I am not, however, enjoying my time here, and yet that does not seem to be a good enough excuse for me to leave.
I heard from mom that dad once commented on my situation by saying that outside the UAE I am like a fish out of water. I never really thought about it that way but it makes sense. In real life though, I am trying my best to stay afloat. And, in real life also, the sea level is rising, literally, on everybody, and we are sinking. We are sinking, and the enjoyment that comes from living the high life, or being doted on and provided for mean nothing if we do not do something about it. In real life, we are very much playing our musical instruments as the inevitable happens.
I wonder all the time if I am choosing to be here or if I am back here for a reason. I try not to think about it too much because I do not want it to get into my head. There is danger in thinking that you are God sent and that you are mandated to do what you are doing by God; you begin taking matters into your own hands and forget that you are not divine. As long as I am cognizant that I am only human, I will try to continue doing what feels right even if it looks like I am marching to the beat of my own drum. The best that I can do while the music is playing is to try my best to become an instrument for divine intervention. Those who survive though escape on a lifeboat.
On a lighter note, what are you thinking about?