Sitting in the back of a taxi as I finally break an eight year absence, my palms are sweaty and nose is cold. I find my mind wandering between horror stories of detention and torture and at the same time, anxious to get there.
I blankly stare at a TV showing a video promoting tourism in Syria as the officer asks me questions of where I will be staying in Damascus, in case they need to find me. I wonder who they’ve made this video for and if travelers will ever find their way back. Somehow I find it strangely comforting as images of the sea keep playing in a loop, then comes the sound of my passport being stamped. “Welcome back,” he says.
Nostalgia comes from two Greek words; nostos means ‘return home,’ and algos means ‘pain.’ Is it the pain of being away from home or is it the pain of returning home? The loss of connection to our home country is a fundamental loss - it is the loss of ourselves. This is why our desire to return home may be understood as the ultimate nostalgia, the end of our voyage, the healing of our wounds.
This project explores the different dimensions of nostalgia within Syrians currently living in Lebanon. It’s the sum of our conversations, the exploration of how we struggle with the desire to return home - or not to - and the many doubts that come along with it. It is a hint of the complexity of one’s decision and aims to raise the question of what happens next. With the global push for the return of Syrians ‘back home’ what will be the consequences when the power of choice is taken away and host countries officially begin forced repatriation?