From Paris to Stockholm

Stockholm Central Station. Photo by Deeped Niclas Strandh

“In the moments of despair, cast your eyes to the summer sky and let go of what worries you!”

When I was twelve and I still believed that miracles could happen, I read this on the back of a bus in Ankara, Turkey. For the past eight years I’ve been reciting that quote first thing in the morning. It used to help me worry less about my life’s situations, but lately it doesn’t help! Nothing seems to help me feel calm anymore, not even remembering Mom’s words on how bravery can always serve us – no matter how despairing the situation may seem.

It is 11 pm  and I am sitting on a bench in Stockholm Central Station, waiting for my Swedish sister to come and pick me up. I feel dead tired after a long journey from Paris to Stockholm. The way was horrifying and too long, and I was scared all the way to Malmö – from where I took the train to Stockholm. I was so terrified of being caught by the police that I couldn’t close my eyes even once during the whole journey.
I went to Paris with the hope of a new and positive start, after three years of waiting to get my asylum in Sweden – and four rejections.

But things were even worse in France and after two months of sleeping on garbage in a park, staying on the line and trying to get registered, I finally gave up and decided to come back “home” to Sweden. At least here I had some friends, a blonde sister who loved me like her own brother and a school which gave me free lunch – even though I couldn’t concentrate much on my lessons. But after arriving here I realized I had made another mistake, because my future in Sweden is uncertain and hope is long gone for me. So, here I am again, not being able to smile or sleep, or even think about anything new but old scary thoughts.

I’m 20 years old but feel like 80. Originally I come from Kurdistan, but I was born and raised in Turkey. Sex years ago, after my parents got divorced, Dad went to US and left me and Mom alone. Soon after that Mom decided to go back to Rojava to join the army of the Kurdish women to defend her country against ISIS. I was betrayed by my own parents, lost and left alone in a place where they even hated my name – because I was Kurd.

I never heard anything from either Mom and Dad again, I don’t know if they are still alive, even if they are I don’t care. They died for me the day they left me, my home was destroyed then and there. And after that I never felt totally home again. To be honest I’ve forgotten how it feels like to be home, like many other people in my situation.

Annica, my Swedish sister is finally here. She runs into my arms, gives me a bone crushing hug and tells me how much she missed me. I hug her back, I missed her too, but deep down I feel bad for being back – the burden who is not truly welcome anywhere. I don’t know if I have any energy left to keep on struggling, I think about those poor guys in Rosa park of Paris, who had lived there under the tents for almost two years.

Their eyes filled with hopelessness and their faces pale all the times. For me they are the real heroes, the ones who wake up everyday and go through hell in order to survive. The ones who stay hungry for days but don’t complain, because they have forgotten how it feels to have a full stomach. I wonder if they ever cry, for I never saw them do it when I was there. Or maybe they do, when the night is dark and everyone else is in dreamland – just like me.

This blog is based on the stories of young people seeking asylum.

Faiaz Dowlatzai is a young author living in Sweden. He is the chairman of The Alliance of Unaccompanied minors in Sweden and works as teacher and student assistant at Vinsta Public School. 

To Faiaz fleeing his home country has meant fighting for his life and his future, defeating darkness and death, reaching the light. He says some will succeed, many will not. Faiaz is now writing on the second book in a triology about his and his siblings flight. The first book was published in 2019.

Faiaz Dowlatzai