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Sep-18-2010 21:48printcomments

Book Review: Nomad Diaries

Nomad Diaries shows that even in the darkest of obstacles in the end there is light and survival; support from surprising places and the power of forgiveness, friendship and listening.

Nomad Diaries
Learn more: Nomad Diaries

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - December 25, 2004: Sister, I ask myself who am I? Really! Canjeero-eating, hijab-wearing, broken English speaking, and stressed like most American. Am I American? Does that make one American? I never reasoned I would call myself American. The dark blue passport I hold does not confirm my belonging to this country. Who am I when my own grandkids cannot speak my language? When they detest what I want them to embrace? Who am I when American suspects my religion, and yet asks me to belong? Where do I belong? I dream of a hoe away, and yet I have had a home here for eleven years. So where is home? How can I ease my mind that America has given me literacy and driving skills, freed me so that I can do things for myself. Yet America rejects me in some ways.

It makes me feel as if I am an alien, as if I don’t belong, I have right now, under the laws of this country: I can vote – I had never voted before I came to America, for in Africa we were never allowed an opportunity to choose a president, one was always chosen for us. Yet I am suspicious and they are suspicious. There is no trust between us. They mistrust my loyalty, assuming I am ready to blow up this country which has given me choices, safety, stability and Oprah. How am I supposed to assure them I will defend this country, that it’s my Islamic duty to safeguard it? I can wear all the flags in the world – an act Americans have suddenly found patriotic – but I am still a Muslim, still under suspicion, still not patriotic enough.

I could lie to myself all I want, to say I will go home one day and sit under a mirimiri tree in Hamar Jajab where I will sip tea with you and other relatives to catch up on the past. But I have been saying that long and it has no chance of becoming a reality now or any time soon. So should I accept my reality that I am a homeless women whose home in unknown? Or should I join people like the young African American woman who are constantly asked where is home, only to become tongue-tied, and not know what to answer?

Nomad Diaries is strength in the face of freedom and adversity, the lessons that we have to learn from one another and the compassion that can come as a result of that dependence. The courage it takes to acclimate to a new culture and home; the obstacles of living in between two different worlds. Nomad Diaries teaches that only through patience, forgiveness and tolerance will the world begin to come together.

The fear refugees have of leaving their home is not eased by the freedoms they garner in America. The confusion, newness and lack of American patience can make the transition all the more difficult. Nomad Diaries put into perspective that as wonderful as it is to be here in American, refugees want to go home, home to their culture, land and families.

The strength of a refugee is profound, not only in their ability to survive whatever tragedy they fled from, surviving the camps and then the transition to a new “home” is wrought with almost impossible obstacles.

Nomad Diaries shows that even in the darkest of obstacles in the end there is light and survival; support from surprising places and the power of forgiveness, friendship and listening.

Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: alysha.atma@gmail.com

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