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Meet the authors:
Imran Sarihasan & Navjotpal Kaur

Thank you for sharing this powerful and moving story. I am struck from the opening of the story with the juxtaposition between the familiarity of home (and even one’s own bed) and the sense of danger and unrest that exists outside. What did you hope to convey to the reader in beginning the story as you did and presenting such moments of stark comparison between inside and outside, safety and danger?

For a child, home is the sanctuary of security and comfort. Within the confines of a room, a young mind brims with the unwavering belief that no harm could ever befall them. By contrasting inside and outside, one of our aims was to portray the fragility of the boundary. It's truly incredible how something so fragile can maintain the balance between safety and danger until it can no longer do so. It is worth mentioning that the initial incident in the story marked the final occasion our protagonist was ‘inside’. After the incident, he will spend the rest of his life ‘outside’, never feeling the warmth and comfort of 'home' again. To truly capture the depth of the tragedy, we made a deliberate choice to highlight the moments that showcased the distinction between what was considered ‘inside’ and ‘outside’.


Another vivid juxtaposition that emerges throughout the story is the sense of stillness and immobility in the face of sweeping movement and change. Can you tell us about your decision to centre this sense of stillness throughout the broad narrative arc of the story?

We chose to juxtapose ‘stillness and immobility’ to demonstrate how refugees feel in their inner world. Being stuck in the midst of rapid change, where there are many moments of introspection and reflection, pushes them to interact outside the world, where they still seek to understand their identities and sense the evolving world around them. On the other hand, we aimed to show the characters’ sense of displacement and alienation through their sense of immobility. As he grapples with his surroundings and the changes he faces, the stillness reflects his inner turmoil and the difficulty of finding stability in a constantly shifting world. We hope this provokes introspection in you, the reader, and deepens your understanding of the refugee experience.

You so powerfully captured the refugee experience of being stripped of a sense of humanity and autonomy. In your description of this experience of un-belonging, and for the first time in the narrative, you spoke directly to the reader. Can you speak to your choice to use this approach at the point in the story in which you did so?

We chose to speak directly to the reader at that point to create an immediate, personal connection and emphasise the urgency and gravity of the refugee experience. With this approach, we hoped to foster empathy and highlight the shared humanity between the reader and the refugee, making the narrative more impactful. As we all know, speaking about the refugee experience and even turning it into a story is difficult due to its sensitivity. While we were preparing the story, we even found ourselves captured with many different emotions. Sorrow, feeling lost, losing the sense of belonging but still searching for it, togetherness of fear and hope. We wanted our readers also to feel each emotion our character felt during his journey. That’s why we chose this approach.

Could you tell us about the process of co-authoring this piece? What was your inspiration for the story and how did you contribute to the work together? 

During our conversation about this story, we were deeply moved and found ourselves overcome with emotion. The interview was conducted for a research project.* We came to the understanding that instead of approaching the story with an ‘objective’ and analytical mindset as social scientists, we should honour its essence and tell it in a way that does justice to its narrative—with a deep sense of emotion, love, compassion, and empathy. After all, it is the lived experience of a human being! Imran conducted the interview for her research project, while Nav took charge of conceiving the storytelling. Both of us then developed it together.

 * Support for this research was provided by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions grant agreement number 847639.

Imran is a social scientist who loves to listen to humans' experiences and their journeys in life. Her research covers various topics, including international and labour migration in Europe and the Middle East. She also finds solace and inspiration in the harmonious melodies of music, the captivating narratives of books, and the boundless exploration of cultures worldwide.

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Nav is a social scientist passionate about storytelling. Her extensive research covers various topics, including masculinities, the environment, and transnationalism, across three continents: Asia, North America and Europe.  

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Read Imran and Nav's story I stood still

in the Ruptures issue

This interview was conducted by Otherwise creative non-fiction and memoir editor Laura Moran.

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