Semhar Haile imagines Henri’s reply to the letter of his friend George. Henri writes about memories and hopes – in the midst of his journey to Afghanistan
How wonderful to hear from you. I am currently in Italy, waiting for an available boat to take me to Turkey. I am feeling very nostalgic of home, my family and our childhood friends. But reading your letter gave me some emotional comfort. It also revived in me of our childhood memories, our walks to our primary school in the rainy mornings, our friends and families, the teachers and the school. Yes, indeed the school is now destroyed, and our neighbourhood does not look the same anymore. However I am very grateful that we still maintain our friendship despite the long distance and the unfavourable situation that led us to separate and leave our homes.
Congratulations for getting your refugee status! I am also very happy to hear that you are settling down in Iran and making new friends. I now understand that living in a different country and getting used to a different language and culture is incredibly difficult, so well done – I am very proud of your achievements.
Even though I am living in Italy at the moment, where they have a culture not so different from the English one, I sometimes feel very lonely. I have no one to talk to and I miss my friends from back home. A lot of people here do not speak English and I am often struggling to do simple things or even to make new friends. But do not worry about finding it hard to learn Farsi, I have realised that learning a new language takes some time and can be difficult. It is unfortunate that you are unable to become Iranian citizen because of the language barrier, but be patient. Continue to make new friends you talk with, and adapt to your new home. However you will also realise that some friendships transcend linguistic or cultural barriers, and they become based on the understanding of each other’s struggles and empathy. Those are the friendships that are most comforting and long lasting.
I am very grateful that you are willing to support me. Indeed it makes me happy to realise that despite the destructive war that is happening, we still hold our friendship values and we continue to dream. This enables me to focus on my dream of becoming someone I will be proud of one day, and of supporting my friends and family who are also going through the same struggle. I will continue to write you and inform you of the uncertain and long journey that I am embarking on.
With love and solidarity,
About Semhar Haile
Semhar is a postgraduate student at SOAS, University of London. She is studying Globalisation and Multinational Corporations. She is originally from Eritrea, but currently living in London and working as a project assistant for the Becoming Adult project. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and travelling.