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When Friends Leave Qatar

If you have lived in or visited Qatar, you will understand how tedious traffic gets. But what's more tiresome are the lights—ah yes, the lights that never turn green. They stay red for an eternity. Now, you can sit at the traffic lights and feel the deep dark cloud of misery or, like me, use this time to reflect. 

I usually take those seemingly never-ending minutes and make mental lists. Groceries—have I forgotten anything? Milk? Fruit? Chores—laundry, clean uniforms for the kids, dry cleaning, etc. Will they have apples or blueberries in their lunch bags? Both? The lists are endless. 

However, today was somehow different. As soon as I put on the brakes at the stop light, I was overwhelmed. My eyes filled up, I couldn't contain myself, and a continuous stream of tears started pouring out. 

What just happened to me!? I'm crying over traffic! Seriously? 

Then it hit me—hard like a slap in the face. My friends were leaving Qatar. As an expat, you get used to people coming and going, and you make it a point not to get emotionally attached, but you are only human. And oh boy, do you get attached. You get attached like super glue. 

Friends abroad become your family, your support system and you depend on them for every type of help. They are your shoulder to cry on, the emergency contact at school for your kids, your everything. 

But, you are used to this right? 

This time it was much more different. Not one. Not two. Not three, but four close friends were all leaving at the same time. How could they! How could they possibly leave without discussing this with me? Do I not get a say? Have I not invested time, love and energy in this relationship? I was heartbroken. 

The tears continued flowing out. How will I survive? How do I do this every year? 

I tell myself every year not to get attached, not to get emotional, but in a world where we depend on each other, this process gets harder every year. 

Friends, near and far you are always with me. 

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