I haven’t fallen in love with Malaysia yet? And I think I know why. I’m an outsider here, and moreover, everyone I know in Malaysia are also outsiders. An outsider surrounded by outsiders. We’re all just in a place between homes. Just passing through, on a longer journey. Me, I’m here, because I followed my wanderlust, and decided to move across our world to pursue an internship with the Malaysia Social Research Institute as part of my degree at the University of Victoria. For my friends here, Malaysia was meant to be a like highway pit-stop on a road-trip (of necessity) to their anticipated destination (re-settlement). And of course the endless joy and adventure to be had in an extended stay, but doesn’t change the fact that we’re all outsiders here.   

jomny sun’s book “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” is a great illustration of this of feeling of not quite belonging. In the book, an aliebn arrives to earb with the mission of meeting a humabn. The aliebn over the course of their journey on earb meet and befriend a wonderful cast of characters: a tree who is warry to give, but would gladly take a hug, a bear shocked by the aliebn’s lack of prejudice, a snail overjoyed to be noticed, a dog who shared the un-asking and unquestioning love that only a dog could share, an egg full of potential and possibility, and nothing. None of these friends that the aliebn meet were the humanbs that they had come to meet. But that couldn’t matter any less, they were friends, and they grew together, lived, laughed, and loved.

The aliebn and the tree from “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too”

Before taking off to fly here, I tried in a vain to learn bahasa malayu, but as it turns out I hear far more Persian and Arabic than I do bahasa. Just yesterday, my English tutoring section got turned around on me, switching roles, the kids started teaching me Arabic. Even though it went straight in one ear and out the other ear. No matter how many times we’ve gone over the numbers  ١ ٢ ٣ ٤ ٥ ٦ ٧ ٨ ٩. I can however always remember to give the greeting each morning of salem.  

Foodwise, I eat far more of a Syrian and Pakistani diet, Kuboos, labneh, rice, and dahl. Food is at the heart of one’s culture, and I’ve had more homemade falafels than roti canai. Hanan is a great cook, and with every bite my heart glows. 

The Doboshs are my second family here, Hanan took me in as one of her own kids. They have had my back through thick and thin. They’re truly kinfolk. Hanan is a mamma akin to Mamma Kat and Mamma Kate back home. I’m truly grateful to have met them.

♡ .أنت لا تختار عائلتك. إنهم هدية من الله لك. كما أنت بالنسبة لهم
Open photo

We’re all outsiders here. Making the most of our journey through Malaysia, going to school, playing football, and being with family. My journey through Malaysia is going really fast now, sad how quickly this journey will come to a close. In sha’Allah, I hope for all my friends, that their journey through Malaysia will also come to a close and that they find their way to the home they came here to seek.