For a 6-year-old, it had all the hallmarks of an adventure even though the bad news kept piling up. In Dubai, I saw a vending machine for the first time and I vividly remember it because there was this machine, and it gives you soda. My mom put in a coin and got me orange soda. So, while we were standing there at 11 PM in a country where we had no home, I was experiencing orange soda for the first time in my life and kind of enjoying it.
This was how I experienced being a refugee, through the eyes of a child. I was born in Iran and my mother converted to Christianity and joined a secret underground church. She ended up running afoul of the Iranian secret police and was interrogated by them. She knew our lives were under threat and that we needed to leave the country quickly. I remember that day, when my father brought us home. My mother was frantic, and she was packing with tears in her eyes. We had to leave, my mother took my sister and myself and we became refugees for a period of time. We ended up in Dubai. At that point, we knew there was no going back but I hadn’t internalised it.