Sea Prayer: a 360 illustrated film by award-winning novelist Khaled Hosseini
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Sea Prayer: a 360 illustrated film by award-winning novelist Khaled Hosseini

October 10, 2019

My dear Marwan, in the long summers of childhood, your uncles
and I spread our mattress on the roof of your grandfather’s farmhouse,
outside of Homs. We woke in the mornings to the stirring of
olive trees in the breeze, to the bleating of your grandmother’s goat,
the clanking of her cooking pots, the air cool and the sun – a pale rim of persimmon to the east. We took you there when you were a toddler. I have a sharply etched memory of your mother
from that trip, showing you a herd of cows grazing in a field blown through with wild
flowers. I wish you hadn’t been so young. You wouldn’t have forgotten the farmhouse,
the soot of its stone walls, the creek where your uncles and I built a thousand boyhood dams. I wish you remembered Homs as I do, Marwan. In its bustling Old City, a mosque for us
Muslims, a church for our Christian neighbours, and a grand souk for us all to haggle over
gold pendants and fresh produce and bridal dresses. I wish you remembered the crowded lanes smelling
of fried kibbeh and the evening walks we took with your mother around Clock Tower Square. But that life, that time, seems like a sham
now, even to me, like some long dissolved rumour. First came the protests. Then the siege. The skies spitting bombs. Starvation. Burials. These are the things you know. You know a bomb crater
can be made into a swimming hole. You have learned dark blood is better news
than bright. You have learned that mothers and sisters and classmates can be found in little triangular patches of sunlit skin, shining in the dark, through narrow gaps in
concrete and bricks and exposed beams. Your mother is here tonight, Marwan,
with us, on this cold and moonlit beach, among the crying babies and the women worrying
in tongues we don’t speak. Afghans and Somalis and Iraqis
and Eritreans and Syrians. All of us impatient for sunrise, all of us
in dread of it. All of us in search of home. I have heard it said we are the uninvited.
We are the unwelcome. We should take our misfortune elsewhere. But I hear your mother’s voice,
over the tide, and she whispers in my ear, ‘Oh, but if they saw, my darling, even half
of what you have … If only they saw.
They would say kinder things, surely.’ I look at your profile in the glow of this
moon, my boy, your eyelashes like calligraphy, closed in guileless sleep. And I say to you,
‘Hold my hand. Nothing bad will happen.’ These are only words. A father’s tricks. It slays your father, your faith in him. Because all I can think tonight is how deep
the sea, and how vast, how indifferent. How powerless I am to protect you from it. All I can do is pray. Pray God steers the
vessel true, when the shores slip out of eyeshot and we are a flyspeck in the heaving waters,
keeling and tilting, easily swallowed. Because you, you are precious cargo, Marwan,
the most precious there ever was. I pray the sea knows this. Inshallah. How I pray the sea knows this.

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  1. SCROLL TO THE RIGHT AS THE STORY PROGRESSES. Please. 360 videos do not currently function in Safari, please use Chrome.

  2. It's a tragedy, but I pray for change to happen and peace/love be an option over assumptions and hardened hearts. May that Precious Cargo rest in peace.

  3. Interestingly, the International Red Cross predicted tens of thousands of Afghans would flee the country following US and western intervention. In the event, tens of thousands of Afghans actually returned home once the Taliban were out of power. For Afghanistan to have any future, it must continue the war against the Taliban. And win. Because freedom from fascism isn't just a right to be enjoyed by westerners.

  4. Thank you for this powerful movie. Here is a song I wrote inspired by Alan Kurdi, called 'Must Be a Million'.

  5. Godspeed to the poor souls that must undertake this journey. Shame on the regimes that condemm these people to such cruel existence.

  6. Interesting 26,215 views as of 3/09/2017.  The 'story' of Alan Kurdi.  Sad as it was, was exploited by numerous people for their own ends.  NGO's, artists, writers, media.  The family were safe in Turkey and so 'dangerous and precarious' was their plight that their preventable deaths, two children and a mother, the father was able to return to Kobani to bury them.  A place apparently so dangerous they were forced to flee.  Not everything is as it looks…BUT the loss of a child in any circumstances is such a sadness….

  7. As amazing as the video is, it really pinches hard that we have developed in various facets of life but only (as it seems) at the cost of humanity, love and compassion… The legend is a blot on the world peace forums in particular and global community in general…

  8. What an incredibly powerful video. May Allah ease the hardships of all those in suffering at sea and on land around the world. Ameen

  9. Its sad to see this, few of the brainwashed guys have caused enough problems that nobody wants to take them anymore,
    and I don't know how much help the Arab countries have given, i don't thinks so its much,
    whats the long term solution to this

  10. very powerful narrative and supported artistry. i realized by the end it was people fleeing everything they ever knew, and the hope for a new future… all the emotions were brilliantly expressed.

  11. similarly related story of Danny Aldehneh, "Haven" made for the web browser in 2016 – glad to see more of this kind of story-telling!

  12. The current problem: how to help those refugees? (food, clothes…)
    The essential problem: how to stop the war and return the beatiful home to the refugees?

  13. omg !! Is so sad I feel so sad for all of us , world is so deaf to the pain for all of you who have suffer the war, world is so cruel . I wish we can change a bit but even down here we have our own wars , Im so sorry lovely brothers for all that you went thru , Jehova bless you all.

  14. Aguardo ansiosa a versão portuguesa. Amo seus livros. Esta sem dúvida é mais uma triste história neste mundo.

  15. As a father, can't help but cry watching this. Khaled's stories has always been powerful and let's us see the pain from the perspective of these people that are suffering.

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