by Abshir Ali Shermarke
Ever since I learned my application for political asylum in the USA was approved, I have been dreaming about my new life in America. I pray that I may work hard, get wealthy, and then become immensely loathed for my riches.
I will not take for granted this new opportunity in the USA. I know that I face a struggle, but that’s part of the American Dream I learned about when I was a boy in — that country I am leaving, which I shall no longer name.
The American Dream. When I get to America, I will work hard. I know that I might have nowhere to live other than a tiny apartment shared with six other young men, and that for many years I’ll have to take whatever menial job I can get. Maybe I’ll wash dishes. That’s fine with me. It’s a chance, at least, which is more than I got in my home country, where corruption is so endemic sometimes you can’t even get electricity without paying a fat bribe. We enjoy no rule of law there.
Anyway, I will work hard for a few years and save up money so that I may eventually rent an apartment and live by myself. Then I will find a wife! Yes, a beautiful wife to marry, who like me, has big dreams. We will take our savings and open a small business, maybe a little corner shop, or dry-cleaning. No, my wife will come from a country with a rich cuisine like Ethiopia. We will open a small restaurant. I will work in the kitchen and she will serve food.
And we will work hard, up to fourteen hours a day. But with our sweat and tears, we shall prosper. Out little cafe with two tables will grow. We will move into a larger space, hire employees, and get reviews from the most influential food critics. And then we will open many other restaurants of the same name. We will run the most famous Ethiopian restaurant chain in the country! Then my wife and I will say: let us have children.
Yes, we will have children. Two boys and a girl. We will give them American names, like Charlie, Buddy and Martha. As our business grows, we will buy a beautiful home in the best part of the city. Our children shall have everything I thought was only reserved for the children of the warlords who rule my country. My wife and I will send our children to the most exclusive school in the city, so that they may one day get into Harvard or Yale. They will be athletic and well-dressed, to show how hard their parents have worked and the success they have earned. It will be so lovely.
And the best part: in my dreams, when my children go into town, they will be mocked by townies for being well-off. Yes, the locals will call my sweet daughter a “stupid daddy’s girl” and make rude thrusting gestures toward her, because she will be dressed like a princess. The other scornful youths shall shower her with insult, for no other reason than her parents have worked hard and succeeded. Will these angry townies call my children spoiled, rich brats, or spoiled rich brats? Oh, I can only dream.
If I work hard enough, I might enjoy an income so high that I will garner enormous derision and ridicule. My neighbors who earn less than me will say terrible things about me. At stoplights, drivers in old Hondas and hipsters on cruiser bicycles will shout that I am a money-grubber, a hoarder and a thief, and they may demand that I give some of my money to them. Yes, and in the most golden of my dreams, politicians may decide that I don’t deserve what I have. I wish to be the target of a political witch hunt. Maybe I’ll be targeted by the IRS. Maybe my income tax rate will shoot up to 95 percent, and a hoard of anarchists will break into my home to steal everything I own because by then, my family and I will a part of the despised one percent. Maybe —
One can dream, can’t he?