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Home Can Be a Stranger Too

By Maria Kotob

Mama and Baba have a place to call home,
where jasmines bloom at the sight of the sun,
and cedar trees built mountains.
Cigarette smoke filled our lungs, 
but we never complained.

My roots are in this home.
Deep under the layers of laughter and cries,
under the cups of Turkish coffee at sunset,
my roots remain.

I never stayed in this home for long.
I was a guest, a visiting heart and a set of eyes.
I wasn’t like Mama and Baba, not with this.
Ashamed, I would hear stories,
breaking borders in my mind, 
I was naive to think I was like them. 

I would wish upon the stars of this home,
like they were mine to claim.
Selfishly, I would return to other skies,
and wish for more.

Homelessly, my children will come to visit
a city that is familiar with their brown eyes,
but a stranger to their heart. 

How I wish it could be my home too. 

Maria’s roots are in Syria and Lebanon, and yet she has managed to grow up all over the world. Having never lived in her home countries, she has found herself torn by the question of “home,” after living in Canada, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. She is a Rotman Commerce student pursuing a degree in Management but has always been interested in poetry and photography, compiling her work over the last four years. You will see her eating chocolate with every dessert, taking videos of her friends, and admiring sunsets.”

“Home Can Be a Stranger Too” explores what it means to take on a legacy that you were never told to continue; the burden of forgetting your roots, as the world tries to take them from your bare hands. This piece tackles physical and emotional boundaries, challenging the notion of “home” that the artist’s parents have left her, and what she will leave for her children.

Photo credit: Maria Kotob

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