I no longer like overhearing stranger Arabs as they pass by me in the street, or when I sit in a cafe or when I'm in the train. I just change the place or rise up the volume of the song I'm listening to with the headphones in my ears. I'm good today in embracing my Afro-look, with my curly hair, aiming to pretend I'm not an Arab at all. It's compelling and odd how we Arabs recognize each other from a distance. I can recognize other Arab from a glimpse. I'm quite often recognized as a Moroccan girl by other Arabs. You should see the shock in their face when I tell: I'm from Yemen.
I do my best not to overhear them because it's always about politics. I'm not saying that's not my favorite topic but I'm saying it literally will drive me crazy.
I'm adopting small baby steps to get back my old sense of life after the revolution in Yemen. I had that decision in the mid of 2013, as I was applying for master's programs in several universities in Sweden, then finally was accepted in Gothenburg Uni.. From 2011 till 2013, I forgot who I used to be, what did I use to like and not like, what were my hobbies, what were my priorities. To be specific, I forgot that I used to like match the colors of my clothes, I forgot how I used to like to put nail polish, I forgot that I used to be in love with a-person, I forgot that I used to like drinking hot chocolate every day at 18.00ish, I forgot that I used to like going to Fun City in Sana'a with my relatives, I forgot that I used to have my every other day call with my best friend, Iman after the Eisha prayers, I forgot that I used to write in my diary every night ...
I'm reminding myself here and anyone who reads this to remain true to yourself. Your genuine sense of your life is what matters eventually, regardless of all the atrocities committed around us. And as Arabs, we can only keep arming ourselves with hope. Hope is the solution.
* Afrah Nasser is a Yemeni activist and blogger. This article was originally posted on her blog.