Fleeing Syria

[self-translated fiction]

Sitting on the wooden boat, Farid shook from the cold.

It was night. The moon shone like a pearl on the smooth surface of the Mediterranean Sea. It was dark, dark like the smoke of fires, tragic like the body of his father, dark like the cave where Farid, who was only eight years old, had hidden with his mom and his five-year-old sister, Maliki.

Farid would never know what he had forgotten because at that moment a missile fell on the house.

One morning, two months ago, Farid was playing with Maliki when suddenly he saw his father running quickly towards him looking as if he was being pursued by a man with a gun. His father ran inside the house where Farid and his parents and all his ancestors had lived and yelled, “Yasmina! They’re coming! We have to leave immediately!”

His mom was cutting vegetables; Farid heard the knife fall to the floor. Five minutes later, his parents appeared outside with a bag full of their belongings. “Farid! Maliki!” his mom yelled. “Let’s go!”

“One moment!” his father said. “I forgot something important!” He went back into the house.

Farid would never know what he had forgotten because at that moment a missile fell on the house.

When Farid could see again, he was disoriented. Where was his house? Where was his father? He tried to get up but he fell. Finally he crawled onto the ruins where his house once stood and saw the body. And then he knew.

The voyage had been difficult. First they hid from ISIS in a cave darker than Hell. Then they walked and walked, and Farid really wanted to lie down and sleep and maybe never wake up again. His mom took him by one hand and Maliki by the other. They continued to walk, walk, walk in silence, numb.

Finally they arrived at a port. His mom knew some relatives, who had given them a bit of money. It wasn’t very much but his mom told him that it was enough. A day later they were on the wooden boat. His mom told him that they were going to Europe. Farid didn’t know anything about “Europe.” Where will they live? Will their neighbors be nice? Will ISIS find them? What will they do in Europe?

Farid sat and watched the Mediterranean, contemplating these questions. The moon shone like a pearl on the dark waters.



S’enfuyant La Syrie

Assis sur le bateau de bois, Farid a frissonné du froid.

Il faisait nuit. La Lune brillait comme une perle sur la surface lisse de la Méditerranée. Il était sombre, sombre comme les fumées des incendies, sombre comme le cadavre de son père, sombre comme la caverne ou Farid, qui n’avait que huit ans, s’était caché avec sa mère et sa petite soeur de cinq ans, Maliki.

Un matin, il y a deux mois, Farid jouait avec Maliki quand tout à coup il a vu son père en courant très vite vers lui, en ayant l’air que quelqu’un le poursuit avec un fusil. Il a couru dans la maison où Farid et ses parents et tous leurs ancêtres ont habité, et il a crié à sa femme, “Yasmina! Ils viennent! Nous devons partir immédiatement!”

Sa mère hachait les légumes; tout d’un coup Farid a entendu le couteau tombe au sol. Cinq minutes plus tard, ils ont apparu dehors avec un sac rempli des affaires. “Farid! Maliki!” sa mère a crié. “On y va!”

“Un moment!” son père a dit. “J’ai oublié quelque chose d’important!” Et il est rentré dans la maison. Farid ne saurait jamais ce qu’il a oublié parce que à ce moment-là un missile est tombé sur sa maison.

Quand Farid pouvait a pu voir de nouveau il était désorienté. Ou est sa maison et son père? Il a essayé de se lever mais il est tombé. Finalement il a rampé aux décombres qui était sa maison et il a vu un corps. Et puis il a su.

Le voyage était difficile. D’abord ils se sont cachés d’ISIS dans une caverne plus sombre que l’enfer. Puis ils ont marché et marché, et Farid voudrait bien s’allonger et dormir et peut-être ne jamais se réveiller. Sa mère l’a pris par une main et Maliki par l’autre. Ils ont continué de marcher, marcher, marcher en silence, engourdis.

Finalement ils sont arrivés à un port. Sa mère connaissait des parents, qui leur ont donné un peu d’argent. Ce n’était pas beaucoup mais sa mère a dit que c’était assez. Après un jour ils sont dans le bateau de bois. Sa mère lui a dit qu’ils vont en Europe, qu’ils ont de la chance d’avoir l’argent pour le voyage. Mais Farid ne savait aucune chose d’«Europe». Où habiteront-ils? Ses voisins seront-ils gentils? ISIS trouveront-ils sa famille? Que feront-ils en Europe?

Farid est assis et il a regardé la Méditerranée, en réfléchissant à ces questions. La Lune brille comme une perle sur les eaux sombres.


Michael Wang is a rising senior at the Harker School in San Jose, California. Like many of his American-born Chinese peers, he enjoys math, chess, friends, and running cross country/track. Michael cares deeply about issues of social justice. After reading about Syrian refugees and the ensuing U.S. ban on immigrants, he imagined how a young boy might feel fleeing a war-torn country. Michael is fluent in three languages: English, Chinese, and French. His story is produced here in two of those languages. He has been trained by his cat Pebbles to rub her belly when she rolls over on her back.

Photo credit: Zhe Yang