I seized a one thousand “Lira” which is the Syrian currency, and looked at it for several minutes… too much detail and actually most of the people didn’t like the new design. I didn’t like the content not the design. Before this Syrian crisis this piece of money was equivalent to 20 dollars and it could feed a family for one day. Now it is not more than 3 dollars and it almost means nothing, you need two of it to prepare an ordinary lunch.
They made a new design for money recently, they made it smaller and with less quality I don’t understand the reasons but I know this country is facing very hard times regarding the economic situation and it affects most of the population even more than the lack of security. A government employee earned from 400$ to 600$ a month before the crisis now after this green meaningless paper (money) lost its value that same employee earns no more than 100$ which is only enough to feed his family for half a month…
I remember a time when I was 10 years old and my mom promised she’d give me 1000 Lira when I finish the school year with high grades and that was more than I could imagine… I started making plans of how I will spend all this amount of money. That is not a very very long time ago; it’s only 17 years ago. Now this same amount of money is nothing if you want to buy but the salaries didn’t match this changing situation.
I had 500$ first salary as a junior trainee architect, now after 5 years of experience and currency fail it’s only half that money.
That was not me nagging I learned once a life worth virtue which is unconditional happiness. I can’t always maintain it but I am working on that 😛 that was only an introduction to just show how a human being can be a devil without even noticing. I was in a restaurant with some friends and one of them was telling us about a a pub that opened recently in Damascus with unreasonably high prices comparing to the currency in Syria and the situation as well. A friend of my friend went with her other friend (complicated sentence uh! ) to that pub, ordered vodka, payed 250$ for that which is enough to give a family of 5 people their food for a whole month in Syria.
In that pub there is a couch that you are only allowed to sit on if you pay 320$ (just for the seat) not to mention the drink… well after having a drink it will rise to 500$ which is enough to close that loan of the poor woman I met in the village before the bank takes her home and throw her and her 2 kids out…
If those people could just replace the currency and pretend that each 500lira = 1 meal would they drink 2 glasses of vodka for 140 meal? Isn’t feeding 140 people more fun ?
What if I was in their shoes and I could afford to live that life!
Would I become such a monster or not?
I hope not.
I am still in the same restaurant we are sitting in and looking at women and men there… women look like they spent the whole day in front of the mirror, but they still look fake with hollow eyes that never shine, and men look like nothing… nothing at all … not even like men … I recall the face of a mother I met few days ago… a mother who lost her son in war… I recalled every wrinkle in her face … all that weight she carries on her heart… her black dress… her white hair… I recalled her weak voice and her slow moves when she opened her hand bag and showed us the photo of her son … and that tender look in her eyes when she looked at him again… her son went to war because he couldn’t pay to go anywhere else… now he is just in a photo in his mother’s hand bag … that empty hand bag… I believe now that war loves to devour the poor and lets those pub people alive to enjoy it more.
Now I understand what Jibran Khalil Jibran meant when he said “Make me, oh God, the prey of the lion, ere You make the rabbit my prey” I don’t want to be the prey of a lion and I will never be like them… not because I can’t it’s because I don’t want to… but do we all have a choice to be whatever we want to be? I don’t know if that son ever wanted to be a “dead son” for a very “poor mother”
Just a normal morning… I woke up, had my shower, picked up my stuff, and went out. Just when I reached the door I remembered my silver bracelet that was given to me from someone I love very much… I thought it would look nice with my white formal blouse. I am going tonight to a concert in the opera house after I finish my work and I need to look elegant. I got back, put on my bracelet and headed out fast enough to reach on time. Just when I reached my office I noticed that my bracelet is not in my hand! Oh!! What a morning! Where is it! I can’t lose it is very very valuable to me, it means a lot! I felt that this day couldn’t get any worse. I looked everywhere in my bag but couldn’t find anything. That made me so sad that I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just finished my work silently with my frowning face. At about 11 am I decided to go back home (which is 10 minutes far from my office) and look for it. Oh it is damn hot out there! The sun is melting my head, and no car is allowed to enter the campus (where I work) but it is ok as long as there is a chance I can find my bracelet. I looked for it in the streets where I walked, in my room, and even in the toilet but I couldn’t find it, and I became sadder. I got back to my office with a more grumpy face. I decided to check my facebook to avoid talking to my colleagues… but then I saw a post by my friend who is a journalist mourning a friend of her, he is a friend of many of my friends but I don’t personally know him and he is also a journalist… I gazed in his photo, his face is familiar. He looks like many young people here who were devoured by war, enthusiastic, strong, ambitious, and ready for the fight… iron men. It is aching actually to see these faces and read about them after they are gone away. I opened his page and read his posts. Just few days ago he wrote that there is no grave that is more merciful than the soil of my country! … Is it a matter of being ready to die?! Do we call death towards us when we are ready for it? Is death
such a respectful and compassionate friend? I don’t know… but if this is the case then I shouldn’t worry, I am so not ready to go there. I logged out, because two years ago I decided to close my eyes on other people’s agony and just focus on my own will and feelings. Most people say that is too selfish but trust me this is the only way you can go on and keep your sanity untouched.
I was silent and unhappy. Even when you decide that you don’t want to see the chaos around you, you still can’t fully close your eyes, and to be honest I was still thinking of my silver bracelet! I knew it will be found for sure but still, it is from my lovely friend and it is valuable for me! For my surprise, she is just calling me, and I was not in the mood to say any word. She sounded normal at first, but then after my silence she said, “Three mortar shells were hit around my work place today, 2 UN security officers and 2 dustmen were injured”…
I didn’t know what to say… the first word I said was “Fu** this country” my dear friend laughed and said back “ok fu** this country”. I knew she was fine, but I still couldn’t decide what my feelings were. Well fu** everything at least my dearest friend is ok! Just when I knew that I lost my bracelet I said “Oh, this day couldn’t get any worse!” then life showed me how it could have got much much worse, but it decided to be generous to me. This is how you learn to focus on your own will, your own life, your own family and beloved only in such a chaos without it being selfish at all…
My friend said at the end of the call, are you wearing elegant formal clothes? Because we are still going to the concert tonight. I said; yes I think they are formal enough with no accessories…
I am leaving this country as soon as possible…
A thought that filled my mind for moments. I don’t remember how many seconds or minuets or maybe hours I heard this sentence swinging between my ears, In that place where I used to have a clear brain and smart ideas while now it looks exactly like Damascus; a complex of unfitting elements and colorless buildings.
I am leaving… somehow somewhere. I only have this will now that is not figured out. It hit me just when I was running down the street of Babtooma (the old city) praying to god despite my agnostic belief to live one more day. I heard the noise of mortars near, I held my breath and held my friend’s hand. She told me that’s normal don’t worry it always happens here. I looked around, the streets were not crowded as always and there were that girl wearing a summer hat and walking slowly like nothing is wrong and talking on her cell phone. we were about to go to the main street when a soldier ordered us to walk through another way and stay near the wall… that is when my knees became weaker … why near the wall, because it’s safer. My friend kept telling me “that’s normal, why are you afraid?” … I knew that was normal, I mean for god’s sake we are in war and you never know when things can get crazy for five minutes and then it gets normal for the rest of the day… just five minutes that don’t matter in a normal day, but it can make a lot of change in a country like mine. It’s not that we make a big deal out of our time; we are people who can live ten years without changing our breakfast meal or the road we take to work, but seriously five minutes can matter more than ten years here.
While walking near the wall I told my friend “I don’t want to die today, or any soon” she smiled, then we reached the main square, ran to a taxi and got away of this place. My friend laughed at me and said I am a rabbit.I thought to myself, seriously why was I scared! I wasn’t like this before, it was just an ordinary mortar shelling like the normal days, but I am not the same anymore.
I realized that I want to live more and experience life… real life not this one I am living. I want to know how it feels to wake up and go to work not worried about which road has less snipers or less mortars.
How it feels to walk in a city that has no check points or soldiers.
How it feels to plan your vacation.
How it feels to stay out late in the night and be able to get back home without being worried?
How it feels to sit in a park and talk to a stranger without him wanting to know about your religion or your political views?
How it feels to take a photograph anywhere any time.
How it feels to be free, to be fearless, and to be light…
How to be happy… really happy without that deep deep feeling inside that something wrong may happen in any moment.
I always said; If you can’t be happy here, you can’t be happy anywhere, but everyone who ever knew me knows that I was never a sure person, never. But for now I want to leave and also I am not sure about that, not sure how, not sure when…
Raqqa, Aleppo, Idlib, Palmyra … and then maybe Qalamoon .. everytime i talk to someone or I check my facebook account i see people are freaked out because “DAESH” or ISIS is getting closer and closer. but I’m not worried. when I look there all I see is ugliness so I’d rather close my eyes… but I am not afraid maybe because I lack the imagination, I don’t imagine how I will be chopped if they arrived here, or how the texture of soil that is mixed with blood feels. I don’t imagine my self wearing burqo or forced to marry a Jihadi.
I am not afraid because I lack the vision, I don’t look at maps and see how ISIS is expanding, I don’t read strategic or logistic analyses or wait for the news broadcast that is read by handsome men with ties about the unfortunate people of Syria. I know what happens where I live after ten days or maybe a month only when I talk to a foreign friend or someone who is abroad. I am not worried because I don’t see.
I am not worried because I am not smart enough, I don’t read history books or learn from the past. I don’t know what happened in Spain civil war nor in Serbia or Poland. I am not worried because I am not old enough, I don’t remember what happened in Iraq. I don’t know what happened before the American invasion or after. I don’t know what is happening now in Yemen.
I am not afraid because I am irresponsible. I don’t think of my family or my self.
I am not afraid because I don’t have my important connections to know that only today 400 people were slaughtered in Palmyra.
I am not worried so don’t make me open my eyes, don’t make me be smart, or responsible or important.
when I was a little girl, I used to wake up at night afraid and told Mom that there are monsters and i could hear them. then Mom always said to me, habibti (my baby) if you don’t see them then they don’t exist.
I am neither worried nor afraid… when I look there all I feel is I am disgusted, I am tired, so I close my eyes…
Today I am sharing a post of a brave, sincere, beautiful soul from Syria. she had to stand face to face with her past and memories in the ruins of what used to be her home and her city Al-Hasakah which is located in the far north-east corner of Syria. A city where you used to find all Syrian colors and had a mixed population with the majority being Assyrians/Syriacs and Arabs , Armenians and Kurds.
On her way back to Damascus, she only told that sky she was fascinated by about those days and how she felt…
I am leaving you now with her words :
It’s been a year and about three months since I’ve been here… And I can’t believe that the first thing i did the morning I woke up in Kamishli was to fix my flight reservation to go back ASAP. Today I woke up and I had plans to go home to visit nana (nana means grandma ) .. Seba and Elias (my friends) decided to join me so I don’t travel alone! They really didn’t have to, but it was so kind and generous of them to budge in. I didn’t want to go hadn’t my mom called nana and told her I was in Kamishli. When we got the station.. People started talking to us in Kurdish assuming and expecting us to answer back in Kurdish too.. I remembered that the same thing happened to us at the airport when we landed and wanted to take a cab to Seba’s office. I didn’t know what to feel or how to react. I didn’t understand what the man was trying to tell us and he refused to answer or explain in Arabic! That happened to me last time I was there too.. It still feels weird and uncomfortable.. And it feels like you’re a stranger in your own home. Seba found her way to get tickets for us to Hasake and we hopped on the bus while trying to joke about it.. When deep inside we were all puzzled with our feelings and thoughts. I was going home. I am going home; I kept repeating for myself, in a failure attempt to calm down and not be nervous about it. I knew the city was somewhat a wreck and I’ve read the news, saw the pictures and had myself ready to what I might be seeing. I had made my own expectations and tried to make them the worst. I closed my eyes. The weather was nice, a cool breezing was playing with the three clouds up in the blue sky. It was green all around. The yellow and white flowers were still shy and were gathered next to each others getting ready to fully blossom. My shuffled music system played “you can never hold back spring” a smile then started to make its way to my lips. After a little bit less than two hours ride, on a bumpy road and with exactly 11 checkpoints, only one of them for the regime and the rest were equally divided between the PYD and the YPG. Here we were 1km away from the city entrance. My heart started beating so fast and I forgot to breath for several seconds and when I sighed at the site of the kurdish flag covering what used to be the Syrian flag I noticed that I was frowning and holding my hands so tight together and pressing them against each others. The city looked so dusty, rusty, deserted.. Like an old man.. So tired of his fucked up life waiting in vain for his delayed death.. A call of mercy.. Or maybe waiting for a tender touch of a hand.. I passed by my old school.. The streets I grew up between its walls.. Here I laughed with my friends and talked endlessly.. And there I bumped my car when I was still learning to drive.. And there.. And there.. Shhhhhh stop!! I forced my self to! Seba held my hand.. She knew what I was thinking and feeling.. Our street had been mostly damaged after the last fight between the kurds and ISIS and the national defense force!! When we got to our block.. We both stopped.. And couldn’t look at each others faces for more than a second.. A couple of the people we grew up around were still there and surviving, they welcomed us and stopped to catch up.. I felt nothing!!! I got home and at the entrance I asked seba and elias to go walk around and i was suppose to see nana. I walked into the building.. It was dark.. I though i smelled my mom’s carrots cake! She used to make that every time I came home from Aleppo. I thought I heard her steps down to welcome me. I thought I felt my dad’s touch trying to carry my bag for me. I thought I heard Sara crying for me from above “allousheee my lovely what did you get me this time!!! “. I didn’t smell any cake, I heard nothing, I felt nothing.. And I didn’t even had a bag on me! I noticed that i had forgotten to breath again.. And that with each step up my heart beat faster. Nana was waiting on her door; when I saw her I felt a little better. She hugged me and cried. After sitting down with her and after seeing my aunt I asked them if I can go up another level to my home. Mom wanted shoes from her locker. The place was so cold. White sheets all over the furniture. The decoration was so different. My hands touched the walls and I pulled them back so quickly. I went into my room and didn’t find the cushions I had set with seba. I went into all the rooms. I wanted to cry and I couldn’t. I ran my fingers on the piano and It felt like touching a hand of an old friend only that friend didn’t remember me. I reached for my phone to call my mom but without thinking I called my precious. That voice was comforting and when I hanged off I closed the door and got down to eat kabab with nana and my aunt. It was the quickest lunch of my life and then I made an excuse to leave so soon saying that seba wants my help in translating few papers for the office. I decided to walk a little before I met Seba and Elias. Walking around Hasake i felt like a stranger. I knew no body and no body
knew me. I didn’t feel safe. And for a minute there I though I was walking in the set of “The Book of Eli” or “I Am Legend”. The face of the city has grown different as if it has sold its soul to the devil. I met my friends by our moms’ friend house. We had decided to visit her and have coffee with her. I live tant Entwanet she is the sweetest, but she too was tired and different. “I am not coming back soon” is all I could think of through out our visit. When we went back to the station to go to Kamishli I learned that I had dropped my wallet with my ID in it and that I am going to have to make another trip back here to get an alternative… That trip back, was even worse than the first one! Hasake for me now is a memory of a place that once made me the person I am today. For that I will always be thankful. But it is
nothing more than that!!
on this land, there are always reasons to make us want to live..
– a music note that makes your pupil tremble ..
– a songe that takes us back to those days when we had no memories yet to remember
– a poem , a passionate one born from the aisles of this city,
from its breath in the morning that keeps going louder as our steps whisper uncountable stories straight in its mind
– a sun ray , a playful one, that plays with each cloud as though it was its one and only lover
that makes each cloud shine like a queen
and makes its cheeks blush and sparkle..
dress it a golden dress and then leaves her alone with her dreams to bare this long night..
– a free cloud , that cloud in love with the sun ray knowing it will comeback tomorrow but waiting is not on her list
– a close cloud that longs to hold the earth
– a feeling that couldn’t be written or said , that only shows in the eyes
– a feeling that makes your soul fly to that close cloud
– another soul that can touch the invisible with you and melts in this beauty.. a hand and a telepathy
– a fresh cold breeze carrying the smell of snow…
– a song called La vie en rose in all languages 🙂
we were in a bus, my friend and I, listening to music and watching the sky getting ready to snow
time had stopped for moments when all that beauty around us showed from behind a hill …
i could remember many words I have read or heard before, like:
time s an illusion, yes it is , today i felt it
happiness does exist.. yes when you are a beauty and happiness seeker
if your brain is silent and you are an observor of this universe.
beauty is in the eyes of the observer , yes we almost cried while watching the sky while everybody else was looking like WTF it is going to rain 🙂
they say God is in the details , and yes those details made my day
and the most important of all was:
this time will pass, yes it passed .. and
your pain won’t last forever , now i say yes it won’t.. I am here and not in pain,
no i said it wrong, I am here and I am aligned with who i am .. I am in peace
when i got down the bus and left my friend i wrote on my facebook:
on this land, there are always reasons to make us want to live
and weirdly i knew later that she wrote the same sentence in her diary notebook…