A Lullaby in the Desert
How do you deal with being enslaved within your own home and not being able to express yourself and have the freedom to explore the life you want? His is based on a true story of the author’s life as she takes readers back tot eh Middle East, being Iranian in Iraq and dealing with ISIS and other militant groups. Her journey leads us to many places and her suffering, her inability to be treated as a human being and then living in the Syrian Desert as we go back in time to the beginning. A father that was abusive and a mother who demanded she leave in darkness to escape his brutality and more. Susan is her name and is an Iranian refugee in Erbil at the time when Da’esh was attacking Mosul. Mistreated by her own father and then having to work in unbearable conditions, she wanders around at times almost in a daze not able to speak up for herself and not able to exist in one place. This refugee woman in the Arabic country tells the story that so many have not yet expressed but she endured. The children in this story suffer at the hands of so many and her search for freedom comes at a high price.
Survival came at a high price and dealing with the men where she worked was degrading and humiliating and at Susan just did her job but never spoke up. Her voice was hardly heard and at times you wanted her to speak out and not allow them to degrade her. Viewed as worthless except for what they can give a man, forced to wear shawls, hijabs and chadoors to prevent men from looking at them Susan leaves her home and yet she manages to support her disabled mother whose and is destroyed after a beating from her father, and a drug addicted father who knows no boundaries when it comes to punishment. Leaving before she is forced into an arranged marriage Germany is her goal and arranges to get there with the aid of a human smuggler. But the journey is not easy and the people she meets are not always what they seem. She never lets anyone get close to her even those that want to help her when she had nowhere to go, and a family took her in to bring her back to health or a close friend who just wanted to help her. The cruel, selfish and horrors she endures will not be for the feint of heart to read.
The time came when she met with the smuggler and the others that were hoping to be free, but the guards were not the nicest, the children were afraid and the way they were treated and told that they were going to be considered criminals running away from home and they would listen to those in charge. Prejudice, racism, hate, fear and inhumane treatment.
The stares she receives and the threats that taking her along was taking a big chance would Susan ever find freedom and will she ever have a voice as the story is first told in the third person as if someone else is telling it for her.
Everyone received an identification card and the cars had blurry faces on them and one was picked for Susan that looked something like her or at least like a Middle Eastern girl through a blurred lends, taking the cared the photo was not clear but her new name was Yara Asfour and looks Arab.
People began to talk with each other, and Susan thought about the men in taxis in Iran and how they would act with women. Children sitting with their mothers, Susan fascination by the many different lives stuffed in truck and she watched of other men on the other side of the cabin who sat beside a teenage boy. She wondered about some, and the selfishness of a girl named Rima.
The unthinkable happens and a Da’esh leader comes into play, Abu Bayda the man who is taking care of the refuge’s places money in his way and what will he do next? The result was tragic and more. The smugglers were supposed to be taking the refugees from Erbil through Niawa and Al Anbar into the bast desert of western Iraq. How will they avoid the Da’esh and going into the vast Syrian Desert will the survive?
The truth behind the motives of these smugglers comes out as we see the evil, the brutalities and the hate they have for the refugees and the way they mistreat or kill innocent people at whim. Susan suffers at the hand of the leader each time she tries to protect or stick up for someone and one member of their gang, Rima you wonder what she is really thinking at times. A child killed for no reason, children beaten, and a man burned just to provide amusement it is sad that these people were lied to and duped. When the refugees capture one of the people involved with taking them prisoner, they reverse the roles and hope that this man who is part of the team that are called smugglers will bring them to safety but is he telling the truth? The final scenes are terrifying and the interaction between the refugees, the children that are terrified and what the smugglers do to amuse themselves at the expensive of innocent people makes you wonder how they can look themselves in the mirror and cringe at their own reflections. Susan finally speaks up, Hadi becomes their guide and possible savior, the prisoner says he is on their side and the smugglers are gone. The ending is open ended and we wonder just where the remaining refugees wind up as they are all placed on a bus, then on a boat but to where we do not know. It is a story about deception, survival, hope, lies, fears, brutality, hate, racism, infidelities, uncertainty, power and finally love. The story ends with Susan singing her mother’s favorite lullaby and we hear the music of the LULLABY OF THE DESERT That so many hoped to survive. A story so powerful and filled with despair, unhappiness and hopefully joy at the end as the author Mojgan Azar takes readers on a journey they will never forget.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews