It has been eight years since the nightmare started. Does it mean we were living the dream before that? No, but ignorance is a bliss almost always. In eight years, I have changed five cities, seven homes, countless skins, two hair colours, and two souls. I lost the track of time and the sense of place, and I most importantly I lost the sense of belonging somewhere.
It has been more than a year I haven’t visited Damascus. The strange thing is that I was haunted by this city; I was in love with its old stones and narrow roads. I thought I will always have it as my home despite the destruction and the tears I dropped there. I left my home in 2015 with a lingering wish in my heart “I will come back someday when the madness evaporates, and men come back to their senses”. This never happened… Not yet, and never will apparently.
Despite the glamourous new year’s celebrations in London, I decided to spend the holidays in Damascus. Although was not excited to visit Damascus again, However, I wanted to find solace with mom who is the only reason I would always want to go there. My mom is 63 years old, she has that smile that makes me feel safe and loved. She is the elastic bond that ties me to my country, wherever I go I find myself going back for her. Also because London with all its glamour and its nine million people still makes me feel like the loneliest person on Earth.
I travelled from London to Istanbul, then from Istanbul to Beirut, then Beirut to Damascus. The car in which I came from Beirut left me near a small shopping mall, and the other car that was supposed to drive me home was late. So, I went inside the shopping mall until the driver arrives. The shopping mall was full of goods that no body bought, because people there can’t afford to buy “luxurious” things, and by luxurious, I mean new clothes. Outside there was a checkpoint where two men check IDs. I don’t remember that I was this intimidated by guns like this before, rifles were “silly” and normal. Now is when I realized I became a “white Syrian” somehow. I learned at the age of 13 how to assemble and reassemble a gun and a rifle, but now I can’t even look at them.
As I was going through the highway that leads to my home (the picture), I saw the destruction, the dust, and ghosts of people who died there, or whose dreams died there just like me. Everything changed, only the sun still visits the place every day to show us the fiasco and disappointment we should feel for what happened.
The question in my head was; What will happen after the war to these places? This road will be built again, high rise office buildings will attract businesses, those same businesses that funded the war and destroyed these homes to forever displace the land owners and start a new era… the era of the war nouveaux riche.
For eight years we thought that war is ugly, but the realization of this trip was that post war will be uglier.