A refugee’s heart #BookBytes 5

In the last BookBytes post, I shared a paragraph from the book The Boy at the back of the class by Onjali Q. Rauf which spoke to me as a mother and relieved me of the guilt of confusion of when to tell Dhruv off and when not to.

In the closing lines of that post, I promised to share a few profound lines which I was sure to discover over the course of reading this book about a 9-year-old Syrian refugee boy who has joined a London school. And yet he is not the protagonist of the story and for this fact this book is special.

That the entire world is full of hearts searching for a place to call home. But refugees are different because they don’t just look for a home. They look for peace too. And because of that, they possess the most special hearts anyone could ever have.

20190604_101554_00007871104988578775454.pngIt must be a coincidence while I was in the middle of reading this book, I happened to find the book Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini in the city library. This was a book I had been wanting to read for a long time. These particular lines in this book moved me to the core.

I have heard it said we are the uninvited.

We are the unwelcome.

We should take our misfortune elsewhere.

But I hear your mother’s voice,

over the tide,

and she whispers in my ear,

‘Oh, but if they saw, my darling.

Even half of what you have.

If only they saw.

They would say kinder things, surely.’

Both the set of lines are speaking the same – of a refugee’s heart.

Joining Tulika Singh with her #BookBytes post

If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage that leaps out at you demanding to be shared, do join in with #BookBytes. To know the rules, head over to Tulika’s post by clicking on the above link.

11 comments

  1. Books written by lost souls are always very moving . Aren’t we all looking for acceptance even if we aren’t displaced or in an alien situation? But refugees have it hardest because they are not always welcome into a situation that they themselves can’t help being in.

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  2. It’s heartbreaking just thinking about people out there looking for a place to call home when they have left their own home behind. People who are judged because they are trying to fit into a community that doesn’t belong to them. The lines from Sea Prayer are touching, especially the last two lines.
    I did come across this book, but put it back, thinking the poetry might feel so different from Khaled Hosseini’s other books.

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    1. The book Sea Prayer is expensive and is not what readers expected from Khaled Hosseini. However, I can tell you the poem is extremely moving and the watercolor illustrations are simply breathtaking. It tugs deep at the heart chords. I attended the author Onjali Q Rauf’s visit to the city library here where she talked about the ground level reality of refugee conditions in France. She works there at the grassroots levels and showed us lots of pictures of the refugee camps. The conditions are pathetic and brought tears.

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  3. Those lines that you shared are stirring, Anamika. There was a time when I stopped reading certain kinds of books because they really affected me emotionally. At the end of the day, I couldn’t do anything but I just hope that reading about refugees makes us more empathetic.

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    1. I am there with you on avoiding books and reading material which affects us emotionally. For this reason, I do not read books with World War 2 setting. There is a big refugee crisis in the world. Right now it is the people fleeing the wars and in the near future, it will be people fleeing because the places and countries where they live will become inhabitable due to the effects of global warming. Reading and talking about refugees and the crisis should make us empathetic, may be also prepared.

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  4. Recently the children and I were discussing the Rohingya crisis and the plight of refugees is absolutely heart breaking. I am feeling lost because I have had to shift from one home to another, completely by choice. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to be driven out of your home, often violently. Loved the quotes you shared. The Sea Prayer has been on my reading list but shall wait for your review.

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  5. I identify with you, Tulika, on shifting homes and how disorienting it can tend to get. Last year, I shifted countries and as I wrote in my reply to Sunita’s comment above I did it at my own will and yet had to go through depression (which was intensified due to other issues). Last Saturday, I attended the author Onjali’s visit to the city library where she gave a talk about the appalling conditions on the western most shores of France and it was enough to tear up people in the hall. We couldn’t even imagine what those people are going through.
    I am not sure about reviewing Sea Prayer but I have reviewed The Boy at the Back of the Class. I hope you and H & N get to read it. The link to the review is here – https://thebespectacledmother.com/2019/06/07/the-boy-at-the-back-of-the-class-kidlitbookreview-30/

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