A voice of a voiceless

An internal monologue for a refugee, a simple woman who faces discrimination, hatred, and cruelty of humans everywhere…

In this part of this city, in these 200 m2 specifically, you stand in a miniature of Syria. You move around and you can easily hear Syria in different ways and accents, smell it from the carriages of street hawkers selling beans or Sahlep, even taste it; taste the poor part of it… even the dust in the street tries to resemble that in the streets of old destroyed cities.

Wherever you look you will see women in black, Brown, or whatever dark colors they find. Yes this is who we are; we are scared of colors, we feel exposed, Black helps us disguise and keeps us as invisible as we have always been.

It is very noisy in here but I can get myself out of this noise whenever I want. I learnt this technique when I was a child; every time my father would shout or beat my mom I would sit in the corner and sing in my head a song I used to hear from those children who went to school. The song says “those chicks! How cute they are! They are turning around their mom” so that I don’t hear my mom cry, and in times like this I do the same thing but with different songs, I don’t hear any of these women complaining about waiting for several days or since the early morning, I can only hear the song in my head and think of my own problems. I have enough of them!

I hear other women saying that you have to know how to write your name in order to get your assistance. I wish my father (RIP) hears this, he always thought he was protecting us by not sending us to school. He thought I will be more useful in my husband’s house; if only he sees the look on people’s faces when I say I am forty and I don’t know how to write my name! They look at me as if I was a savage coming from some forest. I don’t have the urge to change that look they have. I can’t read or write, I wasn’t sent to school, it is not my fault but then it is my father’s my village’s my people’s fault. What change does this make! In their mind it is either I am a savage or my people are! I don’t care as long as I will find a way to convince them that whatever I write is my name, I would cry, I would beg, I would even act dead, I will not go back home empty handed.

Oh look at my toes, they look funny. I had to take off my socks because we didn’t expect it to rain while waiting. They were wet, they made me cold. I put this nail polish four weeks ago when Ahmad (my little son) slept for thirty minutes during the day. I thought of impressing my husband but he didn’t even notice. Every day when he gets back from his work in construction I feel that another part of him is dying. I hope that seeing his five children growing up creates a strong motivation for him to go on… I can’t help the idea of being alone, I was never allowed to depend on myself, it is even weird that this assistance was sent under my name! I don’t understand why they would give it to the woman while there is a man in the house… they are usually in charge of everything outside the house.

Again I wish my father was alive to see where we are now and see how different life would be if I was sent to school or learnt to do anything to make a living. Will I repeat the same mistake with my daughters? I will try not to!! Probably to a level…  For different reasons; because we are refugees, because we are poor because I can’t afford food on the table. Maybe it is our destiny to be the invisible.

The security guards are annoyed of this number of people; maybe five hundred people are waiting. They count us and give us numbers, perhaps they don’t know that each one of has a story, a life, maybe a love, and a home that were left behind … this is not something we have chosen…

Enough! I have a headache… I need to stop thinking and go back to the song in my head… to the silence there… to being someone in the crowd, someone insignificant, meanwhile I will only imagine the smile on my children’s faces when I come home full handed, this will keep my knees stronger, to stand for the next eight hours.

refugees

 

 

if you don’t see them then they don’t exist.

295094_3636763367495_2039168322_nRaqqa, 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…

our sky knows it all…

  • 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

    at last ... the way back to Damascus

    at last … the way back to Damascus

    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!!

Je suis Maya… Je suis Charlie

this post is a letter written to my dear  Maya Nasser (30 July 1979 – 26 September 2012)[3] was a Syrian journalist and reporter who worked for Press TV, an Iranian English-language broadcasting service. Nasser reported from Syria during the Syrian Civil War. His reports from Aleppo are the most notable.

On 26 September 2012, Nasser was covering the large explosions at the Syrian army’s headquarters in Umayyad Square when he was killed by a rebel sniper. Nasser was shot through the neck and was killed.

Nasser is the 46th journalist killed during the Syrian Civil War.

the post in this link is related to the current post you can also read it 

Maya nasser

Maya nasser

Dear Maya..

I hesitated too much before writing this letter to you. I know you might thought I forgot about you or something but it is not like that…

It is snowing here dear even more than that day when I skipped going to work to spend the day out with you, do you still remember that day? I miss the picture of us being happy together…

I thought of writing to you after a year from my last letter although I didn’t get any sign if you receive my letters in heaven or they just throw it away…I was sitting near my desk staring at my blank page a little bit and out of my window,  the weather is crazy… it feels and looks like somewhere in Europe not in the middle east.. and to tell you the truth when I watched the news yesterday I also felt that Europe is a little bit like the middle east. Maybe we are switching roles for a while..  it’s been two days of complete peace here  but few days ago two terrorists attacked a satirical newspaper in Paris and killed 12 people I guess most of them are journalists and cartoonists… how sad dear, it reminds me of that day when I lost you, it must have been so harsh for their families and beloved ones .. oh I am stupid I am telling you news you already know. maybe those guys are sitting with you now.. I don’t know if you see  the sympathy of the world with their story.. oh Maya you can imagine how I felt when I watched the news and saw the panic of the people there… who knows maybe it is the same guy killed you all .. or maybe it is the same man who trained them to be a killing machine .. the same radical ideology.

I won’t hide on you dear, I felt somehow aggrieved because almost no one looked at us or heard what we said about those killers. At that time I wanted to scream and tell the world about my pain and my anger on those who are viewed on western media as freedom seeking angels… I wanted to say that no man with a gun is an anger .. no man who kills a journalist is a hero …almost The whole world insisted on turning a blind eye on our pain for losing you and many of your courageous friends after you… OK I know you don’t care about sympathy or what the history will say or about making your name well known.. but maybe the world’s awareness of our issue at that time would have made me stronger… if the world is fair there would be a full slogan like this … Je suis Maya .. Je suis yara.. je suis ….. je suis Charlie … but don’t worry dear I am  much much stronger now, you know better..

I feel really sorry the world had to know the truth the hard way.. losing those people must be a big loss I think  now you have them as your friends and you argue with them upon political issues up above as you always did .. well I hope you are healed from your annoying politics obsession..

I will not send you this letter just when I write it because I am waiting for a kind angel to deliver it to you, only the death angel pass by Syria .. just the other day he took away some children from the refugee camps because it was too cold for them to stay… again.. I’m telling you news you already know dear … please be good and keep watching me J talk to you later …

yours sincerly

je suis Charlie

je suis Charlie

hope is:

I was hesitated about posting any article in the last few weeks. 

there’s a lot to speak about but I’m to shy to write! should I speak about the thirst of Aleppo? 

how could I speak up about people’s pain after having my hot shower! would I really feel it and speak from the heart with a glass of juice and a laptop on my desk! that’s not enough. if I have to speak about thirst when I’m and doing nothing but speaking, then I’d better shut up. 

could I speak about the hunger of Yarmouk camp and throw away the old food next moment? how could I! 

could I speak about Homs ! the damaged city ? could I speak about my friend’s pain when she got back home in Homs and all was found were few walls and nothing else… 

I still have my home, my memories and my room … she doesn’t have any of them now … 

yes, Basically I can write.. but it’s not fair to write about hunger with a full stomach, or to write about homelessness from your bed! 

I just want to write about hope! even when I don’t have it! I will still write about it and it’s fair like that… 

today, the collage I graduated from, started an event to use bicycles in the city and called it the green road… ps: (people in my city are not used to ride bikes)

You all know Syria as the main war zone in the headlines now,  but that doesn’t mean we’re sitting here and thinking of our funeral next week. we’re trying to overcome our obstacles on a small scale. we can’t control gas and oil prices but we can use bicycles. 

hope is not sitting on your couch and dreaming only.. it’s getting up and doing something. no matter how small or big this thing is if you just get up and start DOING. 

Image

the green road even – Damascus University – architecture department

Same stories, different faces.

“My friend Somar, you are alive and soon you’ll be among your family and friends… I am sure of that… Sure I will see you again”

That sentence above was written by a friend of mine on another friend’s Facebook wall. The guy was supposed to be in “Jobar” a place which was bombed yesterday. They couldn’t hear anything from him since then. The words written reminded me of another guy named “Humam”, an old friend of my brother.  When I mention his name I recall his picture as a little boy. He was a very short boy, much shorter than my brother which made him always look younger than the rest of the boys. He used to come over wearing a white shirt usually and black pants with his brown hair tidily combed from the right to the left like the old days. His white pale skin makes you feel he’s sick maybe or he needs to eat more. It always caught my eye how organized that boy was, how he rides the bike with his straight spine and how he folds his handkerchief gently and slowly, unlike the other boys. I never actually thought this little white rabbit is going to be a strong grown up.

Unlike my expectations, that little boy became a strong grownup with a little mustache and a beard. I saw his picture on Facebook. I said smiling “Oh look who’s become a big man now!” then I noticed he was carrying a riffle maybe longer than the boy I used to know (him). I knew later that he was one of the guards protecting Al Kindi Hospital in Aleppo.  The comment below said “the present absent, Humam, we are waiting for you… your family)… I was frozen for sometime, my eyes were hanged on the comment and couldn’t say a single word. I haven’t seen him since a very long time but… that was different. Humam was also “lost” after the big explosion of Al Kindi hospital. The explosion eliminated the hospital, nothing was left there. And Humam is “lost”. The stones of the hospital couldn’t stand against the flames but his family’s hope and faith could. They are still WAITING for him.

Image

Al Kindi hospital , the fourth largest hospital in the middle east for cancer

 Two months ago was Humam and today is Somar. Those who are “lost” may never get back. They may like their absence and obscurity. But who knows, they also may find their ways back. I hope the road is clear and lit for them to be back someday. I pray… 

 

The only story to tell in war is how to live without fear

I will not give a comment, By Francesca Borri , her words just took my breath.. she said what I don’t have the fluency to say : 

Image

the only story to tell in war is how to live without fear

Syria is no longer Syria. It is a nuthouse. There is the Italian guy who was unemployed and joined al-Qaeda, and whose mom is hunting for him around Aleppo to give him a good beating; there is the Japanese tourist who is on the frontlines, because he says he needs two weeks of “thrills”; the Swedish law-school graduate who came to collect evidence of war crimes; the American musicians with bin Laden-style beards who insist this helps them blend in, even though they are blonde and six-feet, five-inches tall. (They brought malaria drugs, even if there’s no malaria here, and want to deliver them while playing violin.) There are the various officers of the various UN agencies who, when you tell them you know of a child with leishmaniasis (a disease spread by the bite of a sand fly) and could they help his parents get him to Turkey for treatment, say they can’t because it is but a single child, and they only deal with “childhood” as a whole.

But we’re war reporters, after all, aren’t we? A band of brothers (and sisters). We risk our lives to give voice to the voiceless. We have seen things most people will never see. We are a wealth of stories at the dinner table, the cool guests who everyone wants to invite. But the dirty secret is that instead of being united, we are our own worst enemies; and the reason for the $70 per piece isn’t that there isn’t any money, because there is always money for a piece on Berlusconi’s girlfriends. The true reason is that you ask for $100 and somebody else is ready to do it for $70. It’s the fiercest competition. Like Beatriz, who today pointed me in the wrong direction so she would be the only one to cover the demonstration, and I found myself amid the snipers as a result of her deception. Just to cover a demonstration, like hundreds of others.

Yet we pretend to be here so that nobody will be able to say, “But I didn’t know what was happening in Syria.” When really we are here just to get an award, to gain visibility. We are here thwarting one another as if there were a Pulitzer within our grasp, when there’s absolutely nothing. We are squeezed between a regime that grants you a visa only if you are against the rebels, and rebels who, if you are with them, allow you to see only what they want you to see. The truth is, we are failures. Two years on, our readers barely remember where Damascus is, and the world instinctively describes what’s happening in Syria as “that mayhem,” because nobody understands anything about Syria—only blood, blood, blood. And that’s why the Syrians cannot stand us now. Because we show the world photos like that 7-year-old child with a cigarette and a Kalashnikov. It’s clear that it’s a contrived photo, but it appeared in newspapers and websites around the world in March, and everyone was screaming: “These Syrians, these Arabs, what barbarians!” When I first got here, the Syrians stopped me and said, “Thank you for showing the world the regime’s crimes.” Today, a man stopped me; he told me, “Shame on you.”

Had I really understood something of war, I wouldn’t have gotten sidetracked trying to write about rebels and loyalists, Sunnis and Shia. Because really the only story to tell in war is how to live without fear. It all could be over in an instant. If I knew that, then I wouldn’t have been so afraid to love, to dare, in my life; instead of being here, now, hugging myself in this dark, rancid corner, desperately regretting all I didn’t do, all I didn’t say. You who tomorrow are still alive, what are you waiting for? Why don’t you love enough? You who have everything, why you are so afraid?

 http://www.cjr.org/feature/womans_work.php?page=all