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

 

 

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First thing you get to learn through crisis is to let go To let go of your memories … you start to forget your old friends, the faces of your neighbors, the phone number of your first love, the promises you have made for them…
If you are lucky enough you then let go of the memory of your pain. You look back and just see vague images in your mind… like a gathering you and your friends have had in a cheap restaurant back in the days when you were all students. An image of the person you were. But with no pain.
To let go of your friends, of your beloved ones. To let go of your lovely things, of your properties.
To let go is a virtue, that can make one understand the abstract meaning of being one. We most of the times have a misunderstanding with our own selves about the meaning of being.. are we the things we have ? are we our pain? Are we our memories? Our hope ? our love? Our friends ? or are we the things we created ? I have no clue actually what am I and it always thrills me in any job interview that question “please, tell us about yourself” Letting go of everything may get you closer to who you really are. But I know one thing , that through this journey, Never let go of your dreams, and your smile.
In this occasion, I am letting go of these 2 paintings that really mean a lot to me and that I always refused to sell. I always thought that these paintings are me, the image of the inner me. Now I am letting go of that old me. I think I am free now. I am unattached. If anyone is interested contact me on my Email: btoolzalkha@gmail.com
name of the painting: me and my city

   name of the painting: me and my city

oil on canvas

oil on canvas

a post that has no title, and no meaning

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.8f0471c7185d925a4d9326426cc3dd04

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…

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…

on this land…

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…

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a new day has come !

It was 11 pm, Wednesday night, I was in my bed next to the large window trying to sleep while the full moon was sending its light through the bushes to my room. It was a perfect starry night.. I closed my eyes, then  in the moment my brain gave up and decided to let go of everything and sleep, my heart jumped and I opened my eyes on a sound that I recognized few moments later, that was a sound of shooting outside not very far from home … then I thought to myself “oh since when this sound scares me! It looks like we have been safe for too long that I almost forgot this noise” .. I closed my eyes again, smiled in ease and sailed..

Next morning :

I woke up with a plan in my head…

I will go to the doctor for a consultancy – I will go shopping ❤ – then I will buy some books then I will meet my sister who left home for exams  few minutes before and have dinner somewhere out .. I am energetic today .. but first of all I will have my sacred morning coffee. My telephone is ringing, and it’s my friend ! oh we haven’t talked since quite a while maybe I meet her today as well .. what a lovely shiny day … but strangely my friend is asked me about my sister who has exams today, and that was a bit weird at that moment of the morning. Then she told me that the city is being hit by mortars since half an hour and the university of Damascus received a big share of these mortars and Katiosha missiles…

I was silent ….

I could hear my heart beat faster and my knees tremble .. I sat down and said in a pale voice “thank you for letting me know I will check now what is happening” …FB_IMG_1423241732757

I called my sister, she told me they canceled the exam and they are stuck in the university building not able to go out until things calm down…  on my chair a wept for that feeling I had last night .. we have been safe for a long time and that was over …

During this time my sister  Mia in the yard of her college was looking for a safe place to stay after 3 mortars fell close to her place.

Sister :

I am not afraid, I was telling myself this sentence over and over again but staring at panicked people is what really scaring me. People were running to the nowhere and I was walking in the opposite direction I wished at that moment I could stop anyone and ask why they were running that way .. among all this craziness that hits the crowds in such moments I noticed a more crazy scene in the street, while people were running a man was standing in front of his shop and shouting “you can by any socks you want by only 100 Syrian pounds!!” seriously that man was trying to sell socks in the middle of this!

I had no idea what was running in my head , I thought to myself I need to send a message to my love.. what if that was my last message to him I must choose my words to be perfect .. what can I say ? or maybe I should call .. no no a message is better I will say the nicest words I have in my mind … at last, my message was “good morning sweetheart, have a good day”.

The way from the yard to the building seemed like a whole life.. at those moments, I felt that nothing matters at all.. nothing can make me feel sad or regret now .. another mortar fell near , no one was hit… no hate in my heart not even for the man sending these things … I am in the building now … waiting and waiting ..thinking and thinking … I really don’t feel heavy or angry. I just have a vast great feeling which is the feeling of (knowing) something you don’t know but it is disguised like calmness… something indescribable.

I decided at last that I can’t stay a single moment more I am going back home, it sounds a bit more calm now I am running out, most people decided to stay . I took a taxi whose driver was also trying to run away somewhere  and  got back home. When I arrived I saw my sister looking from the window, I  smiled and felt grateful ..…

I wouldn’t choose to live this experience in advance but now that I lived it I am grateful for this opportunity I have got to expand , to know, and to get back home safe.

Me :

My sister is getting down from the taxi.  She is ok and smiling. all she wanted in the morning was to finish this exam and after an hour all she wanted was to live for another day .. from the window I noticed my narcissus flower  blossomed maybe few days ago and I didn’t notice that before .. it is my lucky flower I planted two years ago.

The funny part of this day was when later in the evening I watched a movie by Tom Hanks “cast away” and it is a movie I like to watch over and over again … Wilson the ball sank in the ocean and Tom cried a lot for losing his best friend (which is actually a ball not a human) .. the scene was too emotional and I almost cried.. well ..  in the morning Katiosha missiles and

Wilson

Wilson

mortars were everywhere .. 11 people died and many many others were wounded ,  I didn’t even want to watch the news , and in the evening I am here,  sympathizing with Wilson and almost cried for this ball sinking in the ocean … ironic enough

The mortars were hit on the capital Damascus as promised by the leader of one of the militias in east Ghota to revenge from Assad’s regime and military. So this so called leader hit all the city. schools, universities, churches, random streets claiming that was a military zone.

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