Qusay Hussein

My Four-Day Adventure

In 2012 when I entered my immigration committee, there were seven women and one interpreter. They asked me to which country I would like to go. I told them I do not know, and that I had never traveled besides Jordan, I would love if you choose for me. The woman who was sitting to the right, told me “I would like you to go to France.” Another woman spoke and said,” I would like to send him to Germany.” I felt like a ship with no one to drive it. So, this ship was going back and forth. Finally, one of the women said,” I will send him to America.” everyone in the room agreed with her, and I finally felt like my destiny was to go to America.

I arrived to America in Austin Texas. It seemed like a very different life from where I grew up. However, people were so nice in Austin and they like to help so much. At first, it was very hard for me, but I got used to life here. The people of Austin made me feel like I am one of them, and not a stranger. The Weather in Austin is very similar to the weather in Iraq. The first few days in Austin I started thinking about the women who chose Austin for me. How did she know that Austin weather was very similar to Iraq weather? In summer it is very hot and in winter it is mildly cool.

However, in February 2021 this was not the case. Austin became one of the coldest cities in the U.S. Usually, most people look forward to February for Valentine’s Day to celebrate with the people they love. I was also looking forward to do the same. That Sunday went so wonderfully. The weather was cold outside, but inside it was very cozy because I had the heater on. I was enjoying that day very much. When I went to sleep at nine in the evening, I still had electricity in my apartment, and everything seemed so perfect.

I woke up around 5:30 AM. Usually, the first thing I do when I wake up is to go to the bathroom to make ablution for the morning prayer. I opened the faucet, but there was no water. I went to turn on the heater because the apartment was very cold. Usually, I always turn off the heater before I go to sleep. I tried flipping on the switch, but the heater did not turn on. I started wondering what was going on in my apartment. I plugged my phone into the charger, but there was no power. I said to myself, “Looks like it’s going to be a great day today!” I went to the kitchen and opened the faucet for the hot water, and the water started coming out. I said, “This is amazing! How do I have no cold water, but I have hot water!” So, I collected some water, and left it at the sing to cool off in order to be able to use it. I turned on the stove but it did not turn on because there was no electricity. I looked through one of the drawers and I found matches, so I was able to turn on the stove. I have a small speaker that also has a radio on it. I turned it on and started listening to the news. I turned to the news to find out what was going on in Austin. It seemed like very bad news because many other people in Austin had this same issue. I made my breakfast of turkey sausage and eggs. I also heated some tortillas, and made coffee. I thought that the electricity would return soon.

At eight in the morning, I wanted to start doing my homework, but I did not have WIFI. I felt the apartment was super cold. I called my neighbor to ask if he had power. He told me he did not have power either. I told him to not use his phone to much in case he needed help, he could call me. My friend is blind as well, but he does not speak English very well. Usually if he needs something, he calls me to help him. On the radio the news was not very good, which made me worry a little bit more. I needed to do something, but I did not know what I could do when it was so cold. I went back to my bed because the apartment was freezing. My phone’s battery started running down much faster now. I started listening to my audio book because I did not want to waste the phone battery.

At noon I started to cook lunch. I usually like to cook, but this day was even better because the stove kept me warm. I cooked zucchini, chicken, and rice. The food was very delicious. I gave some of the food to my neighbor and I left some for dinner. There was no news about the electricity. I texted my family in Iraq and told them that, if they called me and I did not answer, do not worry because I do not have Wi-Fi. I went to bed very early because there was nothing I could do in the freezing apartment.

On the second day, Tuesday, February 16, I woke up around five in the morning, and the apartment felt like a freezer. I put on two jackets and two hats because I have a metal plate in my head, and the cold makes my head extra painful. I went to make ablution for the morning prayers. After prayer, I checked if the power was back, but unfortunately, I still did not have electricity. I was lucky to have hot water in the apartment. I got some water from the faucet, and put it in a big pot to take it outside to cool down so I could wash the dishes. When I stepped outside, the ground was full of snow. I had eggs, tea, yogurt, and tahini for breakfast. This is a very typical Iraqi breakfast. After breakfast, I checked my phone for any calls or messages. I only had some notifications. It was nothing important. I brought the water from outside to wash the dishes. After I finished, I checked the time, and it was 7:30 AM. I left the stove on very low, but it did not warm the apartment. When I ate my breakfast, I just wanted to finish quickly so I could go back to bed because my feet were freezing even though I had on two pairs of socks. After I washed the dishes, I went back to bed to get warm. I took with me a bottle of hot water to put it under my feet, and to make the bed warm.

On Tuesday afternoon I got the cold water back. I was very happy because I could take a shower now and wash dishes without taking the hot water outside to cool down. I took some chicken out of the refrigerator and started making biryani for me and my neighbor. After I finished cooking, I called my neighbor and told him I was coming over with some food for him. I put on many layers of clothing and went outside.

My apartment has seven steps going down to the sidewalk. I was feeling around with my cane for the steps, but I could not find them because they were covered over by all the snow. The only thing I found that was not buried in the snow was the rail for the steps. I held on tight and started walking down. The steps were now more like a ramp rather than steps. I could not tell with my cane where the sidewalk was, or if there was something on the sidewalk because it was covered up with snow. I just followed the wall and kept going forward. While I was walking, I was thinking about my neighbor’s apartment. It has fourteen steps up to it. I got to the steps and I started looking for the rail so I could hold it as I went up. It was very slippery. If I did not hold on to the rail I would fall down. My neighbor met me in front of his apartment, and we hugged each other. At that time, we even forgot about the Corona virus existed. I gave him the food, and he invited me inside. I told him that inside was just as cold as outside. Let’s chat a little bit before I go back to my apartment. The city was so quiet that it seemed like a ghost city, not the usual busy Austin. We said goodbye, and I left. It took me a while to find the steps again to go down. My friend was very scared. He had never been in this situation before. When he hugged me, it seemed like he had not seen me for a very long time. I got to my apartment and I took a shower. Then I started texting some friends to ask how they were doing. I was lucky that my computer had some power, so I started charging my phone with it. I have two portable batteries, but I had already used them for the phone and radio.

On Wednesday, February 17, I woke up as usual, did my prayers, and started making breakfast. The apartment felt extra cold and very damp. I touched the walls and they were very wet from the condensation from the cold and humidity. Around noon my friend Julie called me and told me” I am coming to see you, and I made some soup for you.” I told her I had food, and I am worried about you driving in this weather. She said,” my brother came to my apartment and he said the rode’s not that bad.” I waited for Julie to come, but I was super worried because I did not want something bad to happen to her. After a short time, I heard a knock on the door. I opened it and it was Julie. We said hi to each other. She gave me a bag, and she told me “the bag has soup and some dessert.” I thanked her for her kindness. I asked her if she could take my portable battery to charge them for me. She said, “of course I can do that.” she asked me if I was cold. I told her just a little bit but I am wearing a lot of clothes. We said goodbye and she left. I made some coffee and started eating some of Julie’s dessert. In the Evening, I started thinking to myself that if the electricity did not return tomorrow, I would need to go to a hotel because the apartment started to get very damp. I went to bed very early, and I do not remember what time I actually slept.

On the fourth day, Thursday, I woke up around five AM, and as usual I went to the bathroom to wash my body to do my prayers. The water and the whole apartment were very cold. I turned on the exhaust fan in the bathroom to check if the electricity was back, but unfortunately there was still no power. I left the fan on so I could hear it when the electricity returned. After I finished my prayers, I took a shower just to warm my body. Around 6-30 I started making my breakfast. I was eating my breakfast and drinking my coffee very slowly because there was nothing else to do Afterwards. Around 7:15 am, I heard the fan in the bathroom started making noise. I walked towards it to make sure I was not dreaming about the electricity. Well guess what. The electricity was back! I ran to charge my phone, computer, and the radio just in case it went out again. I turned on the heater and it took a while to warm the apartment because it was so cold and damp. After my phone was charged, I started texting my friends to tell them I had the power back. One of those friends was Julie. She texted me back telling me that her brother was on his way to drop off the pourable battery to me. I sent a message thanking her and her brother. A few minutes later I heard someone shoveling the snow off my stairs. I opened the front door, and someone said, “hello Qusay! I am Julie’s brother. I was just clearing the snow off your steps.” I thanked him, and went to make some Iraqi tea for him.

I wrote this to share with everyone to show that there are still amazing people in the world, and if you plant good seeds, you will harvest good fruits.