(TFC) – I’m Sorry I Drowned is a short animated film released by the Beirut-based Studio Kawakeb and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). MSF is better known as Doctors Without Borders in the United States. The film is based on a letter that was said to be found on the body of a refugee who died taking the Mediterranean Route to escape Syria. We can find nothing to confirm or deny its authenticity. It seems unlikely a death letter would be so poetic, and earlier versions suggest a political motive. At the same time, it doesn’t really matter. The situations it depicts are very real and happen every day, even if this poetic retelling is entirely fictitious.
Could the letter be a brilliant piece of propaganda? Yes. Does it really matter? That’s for you to decide. The film is a stylized high-contrast animated piece. It begins with images of a woman looking through photographs. The letter starts being read about one minute and twenty seconds in. It’s read in Arabic and there are English subtitles.
We were able to locate a different translation of the same letter, posted in April of 2015 to Facebook after making the rounds on Arab social media. It reads:
I am sorry Mother that the ship sunk and that I couldn’t get there and pay off the debts from the journey,
Don’t be sad mother that they didn’t find my body, for what use could it be to you now, except for the cost of transport, the funeral and burial,
I’m sorry mother that war came to us and I had to leave like the others, although my dreams were not big like theirs,
As you know, all my dreams were the size of a box of medicine for your colon, and the cost of fixing your teeth. On that note, my teeth are now green from the colour of the moss clinging to them,
Despite that, they are still more beautiful than the dictator’s teeth,
I am sorry my dear for building you a house of illusions. A wooden cottage like the ones we saw in movies. A humble cottage far away from the barrel bombs, far away from sectarianism, ethnic loyalties and the rumours of our neighbours,
I am sorry brother that I couldn’t send you the fifty Euros that I promised you at the beginning of every month so you could have a good time ahead of your graduation,
I am sorry sister that I didn’t send you the new mobile phone that has wi-fi like the one your better-off friend has,
I am sorry my beautiful home that I will never hang my coat behind your door,
I am sorry dear divers and search and rescue workers, for I don’t know the name of the sea I drowned in,
Rest easy immigration department, for I won’t be a heavy burden on you,
Thank you dear sea for welcoming us without a visa or a passport. Thank you to the fish who will share me without asking about my religion or political beliefs,
Thank you to the news channels who will report the news of our deaths for five minutes every hour for two days,
And thank you for grieving us when you hear the news… I’m sorry I drowned.