Eyad Masoud

Some readers will know that Eyad Masoud is the Syrian swimmer I met in Saudi Arabia. When I came back to New Zealand Eyad applied for New Zealand refugee status. Because of the brutal war in Syria Eyad was accepted as a refugee by Immigration New Zealand.

When I met Eyad in Saudi Arabia I was surprised at the standard of his English. I asked him how many years he had studied English at school. He replied, “One year in primary school.” All his English language skills were learned by listening to British and American pop songs. The story below was written by Eyad about his thoughts and feelings before leaving Saudi Arabia to come to New Zealand. I think you will agree it is a stunning story for someone whose English education was founded on pop music.


It is past midnight and I was packing my luggage, millions of thoughts are bouncing in my mind, millions of questions being asked with no answers. Is this is it? Is this the last farewell? Should I be scared to not come back? Or should I be scared if I was back?

No one knew what was happening inside of my mind. And no one will ever tolerate a burden that has been carried for such a long time. A while ago, my mum walked into my messy room to help. What would I choose to take and what not to take? Do I choose to take things that reminded me of my past, or should I just leave them behind with their memories attached? I could not make a firm decision. I am scared to go and be rejected, I am scared to be alone and definitely scared to come back again and be sent to a savage war. The only thing made me go through that night was a smile from mum with words I do not seem to forget “Look after your prayers”, and her eyes full of hope that she will see me again. Sorry, mum; I haven’t been an obedient boy lately.

At the King Abdulaziz International airport, the entrance was full of sadness. I had been there multiple times but something was different about it. Something felt weird. A feeling shook my whole body. I didn’t know if I was awake or living in a dream. Sure it was a reality, the lady arguing about her excessive luggage weight wouldn’t be screaming that loud in my dreams, I would have woken up. Maybe it is time to step up, maybe it is time to realize what my true dreams were. I was sure that whatever dream it was, I am willing to die for it.

The engines noises were too loud and I could not comprehend how some people fall asleep very quickly. I could not shut my eyes.

Swimming in an ocean of thoughts, I landed on a vision, a vision where I am on top of the world. A vision that I am rich and living life as Leonardo did in The Great Gatsby. But wait, he had everything that anyone would have ever imagined and failed to get the only thing he wanted. In his case, it was the girl of his dream. The girl he had always loved. The only thing he couldn’t own or even change her destiny. In my case, this was my swimming career.

Bouncing between fifteen different coaches over the years, with their poor coaching and vilified personalities, I got nowhere. Nothing of what I dreamed of was achieved. But it’s time to put all that behind. It is time to look forward to a better life. It is time to believe that the 16th coach will make a difference. His brain my muscles; was the deal that we had. I left my family behind but I was never away from family. I knew for sure that he will be there to mentor me and teach me whatever I have missed living in that black hole of the world.

At that moment when I was revising that vision in my mind, I was tapped on the shoulder, would like some water sir, the flight attendee said. Yes please, I answered. He went on his way asking the same question to the other passengers. Not long after he came back to me. He asked is everything all right? I said, of course, thanks for asking. With an unconvinced voice, he said, I am glad to hear that. He continued to say politely, sir, I may not know what’s going on but I know that you will get what you are looking for, then he left. I was not anticipating that reply. He definitely left me in a shock. How did he know what I am thinking about?

A few minutes went by and I went looking for him. I saw him standing with the other flight attendees. How did you know? I asked, rudely did not introduce my self. Because I have been there, smiled when he said it. He said I believe that good things will come your way if you kept trying to reach your goal. Oh my god, I just remembered a sentence I had read once from a book called The Alchemist. It says, when you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

Yes, that’s right, I told my self. Be brave and stop worrying. Smile and be proud that you are who you are. Nothing can stop you if you wanted bad enough. These millions of thoughts all of a sudden disappeared into one and only one thought. I HAVE GOT TO MAKE IT. I have got to be the best, to be on top of anyone else, to make my family proud, to make my coach proud, to make my dream come true.

One vision. One dream. All I can see is one thing as the airplane, and I want it to be real as bad as I want to breathe. Every night I will remember it. In every second I will picture it. And I know for sure that I need to work so hard for it. I know became a free man. I know shall proceed to my personal legend.

0 responses. Leave a Reply

  1. Swimwatch


    Be the first to leave a comment!

Comments are closed.