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I Dream of My Homeland

I Dream of My Homeland
00:00 / 03:10

I dream of a country like other homelands.

Where I don’t have to think about fleeing to survive.

Where the wildest thoughts are of weekend getaways and university degrees. 

Of what to wear to prom and of babies being born.


I dream of a homeland not plagued with grief but as effortless as saying good morning. 


At fourteen, we sat in a classroom and imagined the end of the wars. 

Planning our futures, we sat and we laughed.

We dreamt of what we could do and who we could be. 

We tumbled out of school.

She collapsed, hit by a silent bullet.

She lay on the ground.

She bled all her blood.

All her thoughts soaked into the earth around her.

Our futures slipped out of her eyes, lost in the heat beating down on us. 

I knew then it would never be so simple in my homeland. 


Breathing became something to hope for. The conflict doubled.

My neighbours, my friends, my families were killed.

My uncle abducted. 

The head of my cousin’s husband delivered to our doorstep.

The charred faces of our brothers. 


They threatened to kill my father if I did not cover my head, so I stole my mother’s veil and I watched. 

I watched them kill the innocent people of my home. 

From a hole in the wall, I watched them while I studied.

I watched them as they took one after the other.

I watched one of them plant a small seed in front of my house and I dreamt they watered it with the blood of the innocent.

The deep red flowing into the roots surrounding my home. 

The seeds of evil soaking all around us.


Fear has haunted me like a shadow from the first moments of war. 

It clings to me like a lost child, nameless and with no identity, filling my heart. 

Sometimes I pity it and give it everything I have. 

I never part with it.

It took the form of a wayward missile, as if wanting to play hide and seek. 

Once exploding in our street and once in a nearby house. 

It matured when we fled and it confronted me sternly when my uncle was martyred. 

I carried a charred piece of it the size of my palm to place in his grave. 


Today my fear has grown into branches that feed from my soul. 

I fear breaking news and protestors being killed.

I fear mothers' faces as they rush to embrace the remains of their sons. 

I fear our conversations of migration and the thought of saying goodbye.

I fear for my family and for the ones I love in such a monotonous, boring and automatic way

I fear.


In my homeland, dreams have been suspended.

We live by tiny details.

We take to the streets like prisoners who are finally set free. 

We sing. We play. We dance until our bodies shudder at the hope that our country might finally be ours.

Then, we weep. 

No, we must wish that we will sleep through the night and wake up the next morning.

Without fears of falling bombs, without rockets robbing us of our lives, without a new war stealing our homes, our souls, our memories. 



To talk about the Iraqi dream seems easy and dramatic.

My words may sound sad, but they are the words of a woman fighting for a better tomorrow. 

I jump for the butterflies hovering just above my head.

I have not given in. We have not given in. 


One day, the fear will end.

One day, my homeland will make it. 



Aya Mansour

This poem was written by writer and activist Aya Mansour, in response to the project Leave and Let Us Go.

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