My phone parrots the Bat-Cat song, jolting me back into my room. When my thumbs finally find the answer button I pause for two seconds to regain my composure.
“Menelik? Your case has been resolved. Please come down with your family to get finger printed for your exit visas.”
“… So, we are done?” I choke with disbelief.
“Yes! It’s done. All we need are your finger prints, and we can issue the final exit.”
“I’ll be down within the hour. How long will the grace period be? I have a job with a lot of responsibilities, and I’ll need at least a month’s notice.” I say as evenly as possible.
“Don’t worry, you can take as much time as you need.”
I hang up, quickly call the lawyer, then tear through the house waking everybody up. The house soon fills with adrenaline induced inanity.
“You want us to be ready in half an hour? Why do we have to get ready now?” my younger brother blurts out.
“They told us we have a month grace period? Can we leave before the month is up?” my sister insists, expecting an actual answer.
The seconds whizz by and soon we are in two separate cars, dodging through the streets of Jeddah towards The Deportation, where our case-file has spent the better part of two years. We arrive. I attempt to reach my caseworker so that he can meet us at the gate. After ten minutes of calling, as we stand awkwardly by the gate, the frustrated security guard allows us in. The rest of the day moves at a fast-forward pace.
Find caseworker in his office chit-chatting. His phone wasn’t on him.
Caseworker guides us through some corridors, warning us vaguely of a bad smell. Assume he is being linguistically flowery.
Security guard, after checking our passports, asks me where was originally from. Anxious to move along, I ignore him.
A vaguely familiar odor wafts through the air, and lodges itself in the back of my throat. All I can hope is that they aren’t minute feces particles.
A sibling confirms my fears, “is that poop?”
Caseworker disappears to process our papers.
We wait in a giant cage, people sleeping on mesh, others in shackles being herded about
For the first time in my life, I wish I was wearing a niqab. The back of my throat now has urine particles.
Finally, our turn!
Finger printer busted, camera dislodges itself from holder. Much fiddling about.
Finger printer guy asks caseworker where I was originally from. Caseworker tells him to ask me, stating that I spoke perfect Arabic. “How far back do you want me to go, 200-300 years?” I quip. He mutters something about me being Egyptian, and takes my finger prints. Nobody gets my standard “I am United Colors of Benetton.” remark any more, so I have long ago archived that one.
Lawyer collects us, caseworker apologizes and hurries us away, telling us we can go home.
Relieved, defeated. Good game immigration.
Sisters organize a dinner. Their strength. I just want to sleep.
Zainab bullies me into going to dinner, somethin Nur (who babies me) couldn’t do. I’m thankful for them both.
A torrent of emotions. Vomit them all over Facebook. Thanks guys.
Class goes smoothly, teaching is my anti-drug.
Detour to sort through the collapsed house of cards in my head. Mutual mother-henning. I find an ace of spades.
Dinner is lovely, beautiful friends, loads of laughter. Weight off my chest as I am able to talk freely about my case. Grateful for the understanding and the empathy.
An adventuring field engineer and I share stories and well-wishes.
Respect The Order.
I devour charred cow carcass that was handed to me by Squeek.
Lightning strikes, nine gates crashed. Good times.
Goodbyes. Tons of love, and support. Some advice is exchanged. I am truly blessed. We all are, for having one another.
Gifts are passed around. A pirate gets her hat, and brings loot instead of stealing it. Tons of hugs.
I have three days left, and everybody wants to do everything one last time.
I have to figure out my next move.
Only a few more steps. Steady now… steady…