Hanan Aziz, Grade 12, Australian Islamic College Of Sydney
I sit down anxiously, waiting for the unknown. Sitting opposite me and staring deep into my eyes. Their faces were as serious as a heart attack. “Son, We, your mother and I, have had a great thought about it, and… We’re going back home for a couple of weeks!” Their faces transformed automatically from grave to light-hearted. My face developed a humongous grin as if I were a laughing clown. I was finally going to meet my foreign extended family.
“I’ll take that as a yes?” Mum speaks gladly. I nod my head wild. “Great! Pack your bags ‘cause in three more day, we moving back home!” Dad shouts as if he were advertising for a travel commercial.
Minutes, hours, and days went by like a flying time space. I found myself sitting in the Emirates Airlines near my two favourite people in the world discussing the great opportunities and adventures we will soon have. “Waiter, A glass of Fanta soda and chocolate chip cookie cone ice-cream with a side of chocolaty creamy moist mud cake” I imagined as the flight assistant asks for any request. “Just curious about the timings. How much more time will be disembarking?” Dad ruins my chance. “5 more minutes I hope”, she giggles as if she were a genie.
Time went by like a blink of an eye. Waiting in the airline arrival hall, dad searches for my anonymous uncle. Suddenly, I spot my dad, again. I look at dad and back again to clone dad. Was I seeing things? I run near mum and tell her that there are 2 dads. She laughs at me historically “Omar, you just helped us find your uncle”. I blush red, thinking how ridicules I must have sounded.
“Assalamu Alaikum, Alhamdulillah bil salama” Uncle Bilal shouts with joy. I was a robot translator as I sank those words and translated them to English ‘Peace be unto you, thanks to god you have arrived safely”. I smiled at him, satisfied that I understood what he said. He escorted us to his 4-wheel drive and my bottom ached for another good 15 minutes. Finally we arrived to a huge mansion-like creamy-bricked two story house. It was surrounded with beautiful fresh bright plants springing from every corner of the castle. The smell of lavender polluted my nose. A strange spark of excitement filled within me. “Come in” Uncle Bilal says with a fail English accent.
As he opens the door, I feel a blissful sensation that I’m in heaven. “Sup-rize!” a group of unfamiliar Arabs shout. My mouth, with no control, beams with excitement. They rush to us like an up-coming flood and welcome us with hugs and kisses. After what seemed like an hour of friendly greetings, we were finally shown to our rooms to change and get ready for dinner.
“Assalamu Alaikum, Me name is Yusuf. I’m 12 old. I your cousin” He says as he directs me to his bedroom that I will be sharing with. “Wa Alikum Wa Salam, I’m Omar. I’m also 12 years old… Man, I love your house”, I reply with amusement of the amount of space available. “Thanks you”, he responds.
I change into my plain reddish-brown shirt and my favourite 3-quarter jeans and rush downstairs. The smell of freshly baked pizza and the mixture of spices and herbs guide me to the dinner table. I enter a huge spaced-out dinner room with a table full of traditional foods that abruptly give me a warm heartfelt sensation. I was surprisingly very excited to sit with my favourite family in the world and eat my favourite traditional foods. As I sat down, thanking god for all that He has given us, I look around at everyone’s faces and my robotic mind translates their faces as one word that has multiple meaning, “Peaceful”. And at the moment, that special moment, I felt something; I began to understand that I am truly at a place where everyone wishes to be, in country full of wonders, opportunities and blissful people, that place is known Abu Dubai, a place I call home.