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Nights Lose Their Beauty With No Roof Over Your Head

In Greece’s Schisto refugee camp, Parastou Hossaini says life in limbo has given the beauty of night-time a sinister feel. In her essay published by a Greek newspaper, the young Afghan woman writes about her hope of reclaiming a love of the starry skies.

Written by Parastou Hossaini Published on Read time Approx. 2 minutes
Children look out from behind the wire fence of a refugee camp in the western Athens suburb of Schisto, April 4, 2016. AP/Lefteris Pitarakis

I used to love the night. I used to love the stars, shining in the dark sky. However, since becoming a refugee and a resident at the refugee camp, I have realized that not all nights are beautiful. The beauty of day and night depends on one’s own situation.

I loved the night when I felt peaceful and secure at home, when I could lie down on my warm bed and watch the sky from a small window. Now I look at the sky through a net covering a small window, but I feel the fear, anxiety and horror that overcome me when it gets dark.

I don’t find night-time beautiful anymore. The stars are not shining and they don’t twinkle at me. They look sad and quiet. When night falls, I feel very much alone, like someone lost in an endless desert. I’m calling for help and nobody hears my voice. Last summer, my nights were the longest, hottest and hardest I have ever known, and then I experienced the coldest and the most frightening of winter nights.

Darkness comes but the fear never leaves. (Parastou Hossaini)

As night falls, a thick silence covers the camp and scares me to death. The hoot of the owls adds more fear to my heart, because in our culture the owl is a bad omen. Then the wind blows and I feel it’s going to take our last shelter away. Everything is so dark at night. The nights in the camp are like a graveyard full of graves. I feel as if I have been buried alive in a space so small that I cannot even breathe.

I used to like rainy nights; I enjoyed walking under the rain, but not anymore. I knew that after walking under the rain in a cold night, there would be a warm home and some tasty tea waiting for me. Now my nights pass with nothing but the anticipation of the next morning.

I hope I can enjoy the beautiful summer nights again. I hope that one day I will have a proper roof over my head to protect me, one made of stone and not of material that shakes all the time and scares me. I hope that someday I will stare at the flames in our fireplace and remember all these dreadful nights and I will wipe off the bitterness of those memories with a cup of hot, sweet tea.

The sky of my life has the same color day and night. I’m looking for the peaceful nights that I had before. I don’t know when and where I will find them.

This essay is from a newspaper called “Migratory Birds” written by 15 teenage Afghan girls who have spent the past year living in Schisto refugee camp in Greece. “Migratory Birds” was produced by Diktio (Network for Children’s Rights) with the support of Save the Children and published in Greece’s Efsyn newspaper on April 14. Read more about the initiative in Diktio’s editorial “Life Through the Eyes of a Teenage Girl.” It is also available in Greek and Farsi.

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