“Hey sister. Welcome to Sweden. Put down your bag for a moment. No, I do not have to see your passport. Put away your money. How was your trip?
I know you are grateful, but you do not have to thank me. It is OK to be tired. It is OK to be sad. He died? I am really sorry to hear that. Your father is one of many people that we mourn.
How is your child? Did your husband get medicin for his cough? You see all these people with yellow vests. They are here to help. No, they are not getting payed. They want to. They chose this themselves.
Me? For 30 years. I came here from Iran when I was 2 years old. That was hard as well. I feel with you, feel your pain. How I’m doing today? Grand, most of the time. Some moments bring back the bangs and explosions. It could be on New Years Eve or perhaps if someone drops a glass of wine. Yeah, I drink wine. No, I’m not a muslim but I have many friends that believe. Believe a variety of religions. Some belive in the Christian God and others in Allah. Some build luminous temples in the desert and others work 80 hours a week. Some hits the gym during all the red days, some do not. Red days? It is what we Swedes call the days we are not obliged to come in to work. Otherwise, we work.
For you? There is probably work here for you too, but they say you have to learn Swedish first. And get a degree. And maybe remove your veil.They will tell you a lot of things. Some true. Some not.
Here is my number. Please do not hesitate to contact me when you want to make sure of anything or have any questions. Do not be shy or polite. Tell me what you need. Most things are solveable. No, I can not guarantee that your couisins can come here. It is not up to me. No, no-one can guarantee that. Take care of yourself, your husband and your child first. Do you want to talk to someone? A psychologist? An imam? No, no troubles at all. I know what you have been trough. I have been there myself. No, it is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. We all need help one day, another we get the oppertunity to help someone else.
Education? No, I learned Swedish through comic books. Comicbooks, yes, it is true. It’s OK to laugh, it might seem a bit weird but it is the truth. What I do? I make music, lecture about creativity and work with different projects to help create a preferable country, better people, with differences and similarities. In Sweden today we speak a lot about integration. Integration, to build our differences into strengths. Yes, I agree with you. We are all humans, we are all the same. But you will be treated in a lot of different ways. Some will look weird at you. Some will hug you. Some will yell at you. Others will care about you. It is like any other country.
How Swedes are like? They are nice. Warm and intelligent. Loyal and hard workers. They gladly help. A tad shy at first but more relaxed as you get to know each other. Some like talking about the weather, some about philosophy. Some respect peoples different beliefs, some do not. It is like any other country. If you ask me it is one of the best countries in the world. The government provides you with money to be home with your kids. The government provides you with money to go to school. You can say or write what you like without risking your life. Sure, not all will agree with you and some might get upset or angry, but you will not have to fear for your life.
I know dear, I miss my relatives too. You will never stop missing them. The sorrow never goes away. Let it be. Put down your bag, it is safe. I can not tell you if you can stay here or not, but for now you are safe. Breath, for now. You see all these people with yellow vests. They are here for you. They chose to. They want to. No-one is forcing them. No-one is threathening them to do this. No-one made them do this. They got here on their own, because they want to help you. So, what do you need?”
Text by Navid Modiri