By Shaima Shamsi
This poem is brought to you by Dr. Rocco’s Specialized Dental Center in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
I was born inside you, the atoms that belong to you, belong to me too.
I was born inside you, the atoms that belong to you, no longer belong to me too.
I was born inside you, but now I long for you.
About the work: There is great comfort in routine, consistency, continuity and commonality; a connection between them and the environment creates order. Home, however, is a place not only of comfort, but also of control. This sense of order, in whatever form it takes, acts as a shield against the unpredictability and lurking chaos of the outside world. But not every shield is rooted, some just float.
The lurking chaos of life, home and adaptability was felt by Shaima Shamsi, the subject of the photos and the writer of the poem, when she had to leave Saudi Arabia—the soil she was born on— for good after her father retired. She was overcome with emotions, particularly sorrow, as a result of the loss of “place”.
The series, done in collaboration with Bahraini photographer Ishaq Madan, is a reflection of the different layers of existence as a foreigner. Shaima’s abaya (black cloak) conceals the emotional distress of departure in a cargo box to bury the loss that impacts her sense of identity.
Shaima Shamsi is a philosophical explorer who is interested in sociocultural anthropology, and exploring the freedom and burdens of being ‘too foreign’ for a home. She unravels cultural and social layers of existence as a Third Culture Kid born in Saudi Arabia to Indian parents, and raised between London and Jeddah.