While I was in a train heading to Salzburg City from Innsbruck, the fact that the cold weather was quite intense was evident from the faces of other passengers. I sat next to the window and my eyes were fixed on the spectacular snowfall outside. Every snowflake was a testament to how cold the weather was.
While being mesmerized by the snowfall, I started wondering about refugees. A refugee who would not know where fate is taking him or how much time is left for him to reach his destination or what will happen to him when he leaves the train.
This stranger left his war-stricken country under the assumption that he is heading to a country of peace and security. Despite the high costs and risks of running away from his war-torn country, the stranger is still willing to take his chances.
The train was crossing through wilderness covered in white, going under bridges and tunnels. From where I was sitting alone, I stole a glance around, looking at the faces of the anxious people onboard the train. It seemed as though no one wanted to sit next to me despite the fact that it was a two-seat chair.
While there was a lot going on in my head, I could hear one of the passengers snoring, which repeatedly interrupted the sound of the train. A little further from where I was seated, a man and a woman was involved in a deep conversation, which made me feel lonely. It seemed as though I was reliving a tragic scene where the pain of strangeness intertwines with the anxiety of waiting, and before you, there are different kinds of strange faces that evoke neither calmness nor solace.
I had never visited Salzburg before. Before reaching that famous Austrian city — the city with a view of the Eastern Alps, the city of piercing winds carrying the symphony of its famed child and music composer Mozart, I found myself wondering if I will be welcomed with a sweet piano symphony as I disembark the train.
Will anyone recognize me in this city? Will I experience warmth and find a reason to stay or will it be just another station where, as soon one reaches, they start thinking about the next station.
When I reached the motel, the receptionist welcomed with a hot beverage and cheese croissant, which was part of the courtesy shown in the motel. As soon I entered my room in this traditionally-designed motel, which rents out rooms at a reasonable and suitable price, I performed my evening prayers and then rested after my long journey to Austria.
However, my tired body did not spare me from imagining the troubles that refugees face to reach where I was at that moment, and the challenges they experience in being in a strange place, where chances of finding a familiar face is almost next to zero.
Refugees endure it all but the most difficult thing they endure is uncertainty. It is what characterizes the entire adventure of a refugee. Worst of all, they face the uncertainty of either being considered as a prospective terrorist or even ending up becoming the “Breaking News.” Irrespective of where he goes, difficult indeed is the life of a refugee.
By Yousef Awadh Al-Azmi