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

 

 

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.

The Pied Piper of Syria

I wrote once here that I will only write about hope… only hope will let me look at this white screen and type my letters… today I can’t help not to write, but not to spread hope this time .. to tell a story for humanity to hear…

Once up on a time in a city called Homs in Syria, there were many families who wanted to raise their children normally despite the war torn there and the tragic around them.  they taught their children about love and life. The sent them to school believing they can build a human not a fighter..

They didn’t know that in places like Syria humans are not welcome, if you don’t know how to carry a riffle or a knife you are not welcome. If you only know how to carry your book case, your drawing crayons and your little innocent hear, then you don’t belong here…

One day the “rats” invaded this city (exactly the way in the story we read when we were little kids). They were not like usual rats , not the kind we all know.. they looked like humans . they had heads and hands and everything except for the hearts and brains…

People of the town panicked and searched for a way to get rid of them.

They hea800px-Pied_Piper2rd once in their childhood about a piper who can lead these rats out of their city by playing his magical music… they couldn’t find him anywhere … but they still sent their kids to schools maybe they learn in the biology or chemistry or even in music classes something that helps getting rid of these human rats..

The pied piper knew about the rats problem but he decided not to help the city as he was betrayed before in Hemeline (like the German story) and after that happened to him he always played music for children and led them to his magical unknown land . he waited and waited in front of the school in Homs until the kids got out… he played his pipe music and led them to heaven … straight to heaven… he believed these children are like angels and deserve a better place than this ugly torn noisy place..

The Story in Syria had a sad ending… the children left their families and went to the unknown… the rats are still in the town scaring and frightening people … who knows what is waiting for the children who stayed there..

school children - victims of the terrorist explosion in Homs

school children – victims of the terrorist explosion in Homs

Oh wait.. I lied … that’s what I want to believe but the real story is; the children didn’t go with the pied piper like the old story …. The terrorists bombed the school .. 45 children died ,they had their bookcase with them and their morning sandwiches … their blood is now on the pages of their book instead of the colorful illustrations … the echo of their laughs and smiles is still in the school’s court yard and their moms’ hearts are bleeding of sadness instead of being proud of the future builders …. The piper didn’t take them to heaven but that’s what I’m going to tell their little friends who survived … my little girl please don’t cry .. your friend is now having a nice journey in heaven… if in the future you discover that heaven is also a lie please don’t hate me … forgive me because I was also lied to …

Shahd : a girl survuved the school bombs

Shahd : a girl survuved the school bombs

it’s your first last moment … or your last first moment… live it!

This evening I wanted to write

I typed and typed

Nothing sounds as painful as the truth

I delete and delete

My friend who lost a beloved friend of her last week came to visit me today

she told me that the most painful thing in losing someone so close that we don’t usually think of their existence in our life, it’s for granted that it feels so natural and normal so we leave many words unsaid and many feelings unrevealed. And suddenly we find out that we wasted many moments not appreciating the friendship or the love we have, and then every second sounds like a wasted treasure…

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chasing pavements – photo by me

how come we don’t appreciate having a family every second! How come you can let your mom die without letting her know how much you love her.

Why do I have to survive a mortar shell to realize that I love life and I love my family and don’t want to die as I claim when I feel so unhappy!

How come we can wait until it’s too late to tell that close friend that we love them!

How can we feel angry because that old uncle came to visit in the “wrong time”! when all he wanted was to give and receive some love!

How can we not feel grateful for that ceiling over our head before it’s too late! Why does it have to become a ruin to know how much it meant to us!

How can we be so busy to notice the beauty around us even in the worst places!

Dear friends; every moment could be our last moment so please… take it from a fool who lived those war times in Syria;

Don’t waste time

Don’t keep the love words unsaid

Appreciate every person you have in your life

Appreciate your healthy organs 🙂 and your unhealthy organs as well

Be grateful for every relationship you have in your life

Every moment with friends , lovers, and family is a treasure, and it might never come back again… be grateful you had it

I can’t concentrate my thoughts or my writings, and what I wrote might sound horrible and detached but I appreciate that my voice is heard, I appreciate I can express and I’m grateful for the lessons I’m having from life so I’m writing them anyway.. maybe later when I’m more focused I can read these pieces back and write them in a better way, or maybe they must stay like this…

 

 

Who can claim they see the reality!

What is the reality of what we see?

This is a question I’ve always asked to myself and it’s still unsolved.

What if other people see this blanket differently? What if that yellow color doesn’t look like I see it to everybody else? Now what if they hear my voice not the same way I hear it?

I studied in hand drawing lectures a long time ago about perspective; things don’t look the way they really are, our eyes use a trick in seeing  lines, areas, and also colors that makes it able to include the world in that small pupil we have in our eyes.

–          Things look smaller than they are when they are further.

–          Paralleled lines (which are impossible to meet in reality) actually meet in one point. This point is as high as your eye’s height.

–          The view of any object differs due to where you stand.

These laws and many other that explain the perspective made me always wonder, WHAT IS THE REALITY!?perspective

The few past weeks made me ask myself that question again. Changing my “eyes location” made me see things differently. Some big things looked smaller to me when I got further, and other small things looked bigger. Some bright things looked much darker from a different point of view.

In this time I worked in a private university “Qalamoun University” as an assistant in architecture department. That area is mostly in the hands of the government but people there are relatively supporting the FSA (free Syrian army). I used to think these people as “Islamist monsters” who want me dead just because I’m not wearing Hijab (veil). Anyway I decided to go there and work despite the image I had and despite the danger around where the only people you find 25 meters out of the university are armed fighters and thieves.

First day there, I sat on a desk in the university looking at the deserted mountains. They look amazing like the dress of a

Qalamoun mountains

dancer changing colors and shades with every move under the big blue sky. But inside; I knew they have their own dark side, they are full of armors who wear black and shout “ Allahu Akbar”  (God is great) when they behead another human being.

I-myself- suffered a lot because of those fighters; I lost my job, my fiancé, my secure life and many friends. I can count many more. All I could hear before is my voice; my suffering looked the biggest in the world that anyone on the other side looked like a devil to me for a while.

I found that people there are just like me and my family, they have the same fears, the same hopes and worries. We are so much the same on a different side.

When this whole cradle started in Syria they didn’t fear those voices calling for an Islamic government as they are Muslims and an Islamic government will not change their life routine, this is what a woman there told me, so they supported the revolution physically and emotionally. Then they saw how foreign countries intervene in this war and pay money to strengthen a side on another, they saw how those radicals grew stronger everyday with the help of foreign fighters who don’t even speak Arabic and don’t accept anything or anyone that doesn’t kneel in front of them or in front of their black flag. That is the moment when they were the biggest losers; they are in the middle of this war with no one to protect them. At first they fought the government and now there are those foreign black flagged fighters in their land, the big battle between the government forces and fighting brigades will be on their own land.

I heard many and many stories about people who were kidnapped by rebels and then arrested by government forces for suspecting them in something they didn’t do.

I couldn’t ensure I’ll be safe if they know about my religious views or political views but when they thought I’m really one of them they were open to me. But.. I’m really one of them.. we think we’re different sides because we’re not open to each other . I suffered too, I cried too for people I love just like them. I was insecure and I was discriminated against also for religious reasons. But… if they knew who I am or who my family is, they will surely not believe me when I say I understand how they feel , I understand every feeling they had once and I know how they wanted their hearts to stop beating and how the only wish they had sometimes is a descent death.

I wish there’s a way people can switch their parts sometimes and move to another side, move up or down to see differently. Move the whole way around the box to see it all and know that the only truth they knew is not a truth.

Then WHAT IS THE REALITY!??

I really don’t know. I’m so limited to know, but I know I am and There must be a way to remind people in the world of the laws of perspective. they must remember they shouldn’t be afraid of their reflection in the mirror.

 

Wine, Poetry, and Syria…

Poetry and wine. This was the name of my yesterday.

In Damascus, where you smell Jasmine everywhere, and you read the history of the world through the gate stones of the oldest inhabited city, someone decided to replace the Jasmine of blood and the history of the oldest city of some religious myths.

Bab Sharqi- Old Damascus

Bab Sharqi- Old Damascus

You read about Damascus everywhere, you see the battles and the dead bodies, you see different flags.. colorful ones and black ones , yet it’s not a matter of colors on the ground, it’s a matter of survival and control, not a matter of freedom rather than a matter of who will take the control on other people’s freedom.

An event is waiting for me in a small cafeteria that is lost among those old stones and the aroma of coffee, bread, jasmine which is the magic aromatic combination of old Damascus. A short walk from Bab Touma square to Bab Sharqi at night can be now my most huge wish, but I can’t fulfill it at present because the night bats are everywhere. Any way I had the chance to have this walk at about 3:00 pm which is not a quiet good time to have a walk in Damascus.

These streets are the main evidence for all love stories in Damascus. If you are a damascene you can’t walk there and not remember a thing, some people passed in our lives and left away, some left behind the borders and others left behind the line that separates the sea from the sky… only those stones and some of us are still there.. But when we will go, those stones will know other people and won’t be able to tell them about us.

I passed by the mosque and the church, you can see on the walls of the church a huge photo for the two kidnapped bishops..

I walked and walked, pretended to be calm when I passed near that cafeteria on the left, even stared at the table I used to sit on waiting for my love.. didn’t want to stop for a moment to see if someone else was sitting there, and as cold as Ice I had to go on…

I reached on time, my lovely friends also arrived, young men and women were there, different religions, different majors, different styles, and different political opinions, only wine and poetry gathered us…

Maybe it’s also wine and poetry that separated us somehow too… not literally of course, but it’s the concept of considering poetry and dance as arts or as a devil’s seduction that is Haram, The concept of seeing me as an independent free woman or a “jewel to be covered”…

In that old renewed space everyone said a poet he wrote, Syria was present in every word they said, it was our pain , our hope and our inspiration , Syrians are still able to drink wine despite the will of extremists , they are still able to love , and hold the hands of their beloved .. they are still able to speak up and scream, they are still able to sit together in a café but why can’t they sit together in a conference hall… I don’t know…

I think politicians must drink and start a dialogue.

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Sham mahal cafe – poetry and wine event