by Ghadeer Albattarni
I am in a big black car heading from Pearson Airport to Kitchener. It’s 1:00 am. The snow outside looks bright and shiny. It makes me see the purity of life. I feel like good things are coming. I heard a lot about the cold in Canada but never lived in temperatures as low as -20C.
Three years have passed since I last saw my daughter after she moved to Canada.
I remember dressing her in the small pink dress that my mother had bought for me when I was three. My mother had kept it all these years to give it to her granddaughter. My mother and I watched my daughter’s happy face and her bright eyes as she wore the dress. She giggled with delight. Her soft brown hair pulled up in a ponytail; she was small but filled with energy. I could see myself in her.
In the car, I am tired but it’s impossible to sleep.
I am excited to hear her stories. I know how much she likes talking. Even if there is no one to talk to, I know she will start talking to herself.
It won’t be long now until I see her. Kitchener is only twenty minutes away.
I remember one night, we were laying in a small wooden bed together, covered with a white blanket spotted with small red flowers. The apartment was quiet, there was no sound or movement, everyone had gone to sleep. She used to talk for at least thirty minutes before falling asleep. But that night was different. She had a fever and I was worried. I gave her medicine and expected her to fall asleep immediately, but she started talking and talking and talking.
I listened to her with amazement. Twenty minutes passed with her talking nonstop. So, I asked her, “Honey, you are sick and tired so how can you talk so much?”
With lightning speed and without thinking she answered me: “Mama, my head is sick but not my tongue!” I laughed from my heart. It was an unexpected reply.
In the car, the driver’s GPS reminds me of all the images I saw when going through Google Maps, hoping that she was in one of them so I could see her face. But, day after day I realized that having her in my heart, in my life at every moment was what was giving me the power to continue.
As the car slows, I feel the blood rushing through me. My heart beats quickly.
Soon you will be in my arms.
The door opens; I feel like my life now has meaning. With the first look, time stops. All my memories, dreams, hopes, struggles and fights come together inside me and with love, my heart explodes.
Cover image created by Zehra Nawab. Illustrated portrait by Sam Trieu.
Ghadeer Albattarni is a single mom who arrived to Canada in 2018 to be reunited with her daughter. Her daughter is in Canada because of the war in Syria. She is a physicist, graduated from Damascus university in Syria and recently she earned master degree from Sao Paulo university. She grew up writing poetry and short stories but always kept them in her notebook. Now that she is reunited with her daughter her inspiration for writing has been renewed, except now she is ready to share with the rest of the world.