The officers at the Syrian border asked my dad the same questions every time, and he was always prepared. One thing I learned from my dad: to always be calm…

… and to have things they want. Any of these could work: Extra virgin olive oil from our land, fresh baked bread from my hometown, eggs, or cash. He used to say they serve at the border for long stretches of time, away from their wives and homes, and they were all underpaid. He also said we did not want to end up in ‘the factory’, a Lebanese term for where Syrian Intelligence kept Lebanese prisoners back in the war days.

“Why are you going to Damascus with a little girl, in these kinds of days?”

“Because I want her hair back.”

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