Hello, my name is Maryam. That’s me in the photo… next to my Mom and the baby. It’s so very cold here and it’s getting colder day by day. It’s getting colder in our hearts too. I can hardly bear to look at my mom and dad these days. They feel so helpless. I’m only eleven, but I feel much older than that.
I say my prayers each night before I go to sleep, but I honestly don’t know if God is listening to me anymore. I wake up every morning to find that nothing has changed in my life and we are all still trapped in this nightmare.
Mom cooked potatoes today. I pretended I didn’t feel like it, saying I was full. There are only two potatoes between us. I look at my poor injured Dad, who sits there smoking, and Mom, who tries to take care of us but has nothing to give us. I’m sure there are people in the world who are a lot worse off than us, but honestly, it doesn’t feel like it to me.
These days, when I can’t stop the tears from coming, I go into the bathroom to hide the sound of my sobs. I wash my face and come out, pretending that nothing has happened. I worry about making Mom feel guiltier than she already does.
I know she is doing her best but I really can’t bear it anymore. I dread opening the fridge, but still, do it. Nothing has changed… There is still just a bag of moldy bread and two eggs, that are too old now to eat. If I allow myself to think about tomorrow, it’s a tomorrow filled with fear that one day we will lose the only thing we have left, our home.
The doorbell rings. I open the door. A lady and man are standing there with three big bags in their hands. I don’t know them. I call my Mom and stand behind her at the door. They are looking at me and even behind their masks, I can tell they are smiling at me. Mom invites them inside. I still don’t know what’s going on and I’m a bit scared at first. I sit quietly in the kitchen corner, watching and listening. I couldn’t believe it; turns out those three big bags are for us!
The lady says while smiling, “Why don’t you come and help me, little one, come and help me in the kitchen?”
Dad bends his head in embarrassment, and I feel his pain. I feel tears pricking at the back of my eyes, but I manage to pull myself together. There is so much food. I have never seen so much. Now my tears start flowing uncontrollably.
I put the packages on the cabinet shelves one by one, with blurred eyes. There are foods I’ve never seen or tried before. Just the pictures on the cartons make my stomach growl and my mouth water.
Suddenly a voice makes me turn round. The lady is at the kitchen door looking at me. “How old is dear Maryam?” she asks.
“Eleven years old”, I say.
“And what would you like to be in the future?”
Without thinking, I tell her my dearest wish. “A teacher. I’d like to be a teacher very much”.
For suddenly I feel perhaps there is hope, there is a future and maybe my dream can come true after all.