Four Fingers and a Plane Ride

12 December 2018

I am the daughter of a poor man, an uneducated man, a man who grew up on a failing farm. I am the daughter of a man who drove a bus and called it a living. I am the daughter of a man who left his friends, family, and all that was familiar to come to a country where things were new and unknown. I am the daughter of a man that came to a place where people couldn’t understand him to know he needed a job, a place to live, and a way to establish himself amongst a society so different from the one back home in Syria. I am the daughter of a man who left Syria on a chance, a belief that somehow he would be able to better provide for his wife and child in the land of opportunity. I am the daughter of a man who held certain courage in him, a courage that drove him to crumble his sound foundation and rebuild it on uneven soil. My father is a man of strength, a man of hope, and a man of determination. That March day he boarded the flight in Damascus, Syria he boarded a plane that would someday lead me to my aspirations, he had set in motion the wheels of progress that would someday turn in my favor.
I was four years old when my father decided to leave Syria, still extremely young and impressionable. I watched my parents struggle day to day in America. I watched the hardship, I watched the destitution, I saw the pain in my mother’s eyes each day when she met my father at the door after another unsuccessful search for work. For five months my father woke, washed up, put on the same pair of pants, and left to find employment. Never once did he oversleep, each morning he trudged on driven by determination. Burned in my mind is the memory of the struggle, the struggle my parents endured to provide for me and my younger sister.
After several months of adversity, my parents realized that a whole family would be more difficult to get on its feet than for a man living alone. That summer we went on “vacation”aˆ”we left my father in America while my mother, younger sister, and I returned to Syria to live with my aunt. He stayed behind to create better living circumstances for when we decided to come back. While we were there I was shot in the right hand and due to lack of medical service in Syria, I was taken to any random doctor. They wrapped my hand as if it was a break, I had a bullet in my hand and the best they could do was to wrap it to stop the bleeding. After 3 days of just wrapping the wound my right ring finger turned black, lost all blood circulation, and no longer served any purpose on my hand. My father ordered us to return to the US and as soon as we arrived I was taken to Saint Joseph’s hospital in Paterson where my finger was amputated.
I was a four year old with four fingers, I thought it was pretty interesting, but the kids in kindergarten didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as I did. Children, a universal symbol of innocence, weren’t as innocent as they appeared. Children were the ones that hurt me the most, every other day I was made fun of for a slight deformity. I didn’t finger paint for fear of the kids seeing my hand, I always kept my hands in my pockets, and never did I think of asking other children if I could play in their game of tag, I already knew no one wanted me touching them. Still I think back and thank them, if it wasn’t for their teasing and making fun I probably would not have developed into the strong person I am today. I remembered my father’s courage and his determination, and I continued on everyday in school. If I wasn’t going to be allowed to play I was going to work, I developed a strong work ethic like my father’s and I became consumed in school work. At an early age I realized that the world was not as it seemed filled with fairy tale endings and success attained through wishing. I realized it was effort and exertion and that progress wasn’t going to fall into my hands. My childhood set stage for my intellectual development. The combination of the desire to repay my father for his struggle and the tough outer shell I acquired from my accident has morphed me into a young woman of mental power. My experiences have taught me see the world in a different light. Hardship isn’t struggle, but the grits of success and what serves as something to tear you down, will make you stand taller when you get over it.

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