Short storyHome is where...?, 2020

2011 heralded the Arab Spring in Cairo. It saw the overthrow of President Moubarak and the deaths of 600+ young idealists in Tahrir Square. I was teaching English at the British Council there at the time. For me, it upended many previously held suppositions and replaced them with unanswerable questions: how come I was born with choices – what to eat, where to live, what career to aim for? If I kept the law, the justice system at home would uphold me, but here? If I was sick or injured, the NHS would come to my aid, but what about in Cairo? We foreigners didn’t feel threatened. We observed the curfew and kept our noses clean, but our Egyptian friends were mystified, horrified, terrified. What had I done to deserve preferential treatment? I was born a foreigner. Nothing more. From the tranquillity of Edinburgh, I follow news of asylum seekers asking nothing more than safety, food, a future for their children. I observe the desolate hopelessness of protesters in Beirut. In Fife, I’ve met Syrians who showed me photos of their bombed out home in Damascus, and I marvel again at my undeserved privilege.