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

 

 

Advertisements

Attachments unavailable

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

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

I don’t belong

Image

just this morning when i was surfing the net, I saw that photo. women covered in black from the head to the toe .. they were actually armed women. 

for a moment my imagination started playing that movie in my head.. with a lot of what ifs .. 

Image

what is the revolution if not to make us better people, civilized people.. I am not to be covered, I am not his wife nor his daughter.. I am the start point and the destination.. and no one in this world is allowed to tell me how i am supposed to be .. who i am.. 

only in Syria.. Time flies BACK like the wind

Time flies like the wind, that’s what is written in the books. I think he who wrote these words is not alive by now otherwise he should take a look back at it. I will tell you why: here in Syria, a glance at the near future makes me think my daughter and my younger sister will have to fight for the same reasons my mom had to fight for. Mom had to fight for her right in higher education, for her freedom of choice which could be ranging from her freedom to choose what her hair would look like or whether she wants to wear hijab or not, to the freedom of how she wants to raise her kids.

In my life, I didn’t have to fight for women staff. I didn’t even think I will be writing or thinking about this issue. Now some will say that I am much pessimistic, but here are many signs and evidences that I should be concerned and I will mention few :

First oneImage

When I look at this picture I think to myself, how do I want my little sister to be like? .. when her friends might become like this picture.. what a hard choice she must be making.. will she want to be a rabbit eaten by a wolf or will she be another wolf in the cattle? I never had to face such a problem when I was younger neither my mom had to nor my grandma..

 

Second one: 

Image

Establishing the Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice

Oh lord.. could I be happier! Now If you don’t know what this authority means you can watch this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEQRJfL5oCA

now, I and my little sister and even my mom and every other woman be no more than an amusement tool and could be used for regenerating the human race .

we either must obey the new rule, wear Niqab and become like the “lady” in the picture, women are not allowed to drive a car or travel without “mohram” i.e. her husband or even her 13 year old son!Image

My mom and grandma didn’t have to face this issue neither. Maybe my grand grandmother yea at the Ottoman era had suffered these issues.

 

Third one:

Image

This is an example of the Syrian woman image, woman identity that is being shown in the media.

These women don’t look like me or like my friends. The only unveiled woman image there is taken from a porn scandal for one of the “leaders” of the “revolution” (Abdul-razzak-tlass)

What if I don’t want to look like these women in the near future.. what if I wanted to keep my identity as it has always been!.. Should I then face the Authority for the Promotion of Virtue? And just so you know, facing them means most likely that I will be killed and become a memory and an image for inspiration on the internet pages. Or should I obey the new Syrian order, that is never Syrian rather than radical. Also my mother didn’t face this identity issue while I seem to be facing it in the very near future.

 

I only mentioned three examples, I could speak till tomorrow why I am concerned and why I don’t believe in the “F” word (freedom). our situation (rights and duties) are moving backward in the opposite direction, so fast we are back to the 50s of the past century and in some points we are more than 1400 years back in time.

So dear writer who ever you were, do you still think time flies like the wind? Or did you have to say: in some places of the world time flies like the wind, but where there are radicals, time flies BACK like the wind.

Image

The beginning, dreams of fairy tales

In a springy day, I don’t really like the spring but this is how It started..

A lot of murmuring was heard about a revolution that will take place in my country “Syria”

Oh a Revolution! What a glamorous sparkling word. It made me inhale that fresh air of the city and smell Damascus in a different way.

I kept repeating that word again and again in my heart, yes a revolution. Oh God.. this word really has the charm of the old times, the novels I’ve grown up on, the passion of the brave men those who starve for justice and fight with their sunburnt hands to help the poor.

I didn’t really care for politics but I didn’t like my society. And since the only revolutions I knew were on the lines of the books I thought that it will be a huge change for the Ideologies minds at first.

I thought of all the things that I didn’t like in my society. In my city, you think you are free to do what you want but in fact you be doing everything people want you to do. I believe you can’t really know who you are until you are given your complete freedom. I wished this revolution would brainwash people, would make me forget about the taboos and demerit, about neighbors’ blabbering, and grandma’s never ending stories about a woman’s honor and blablabla you don’t really want to read more about an ordinary oriental life style.

I thought of the revolution like this:479708_593639153997650_1352988491_n

I resist all the people of the cave,

the people of superstition and mumbo-jumbo,

their slavishness that enslaves them,

their breeding like cows

Before me are a thousand and one executioners

Behind me are a thousand and one butchers

Dear Lord, is there no shame but my nakedness?

Dear Lord, does this East have no work

but fussing over my hemline?

Few days later, what am I hearing? They are really starting! And the idea is coming for real. I didn’t think at that time of how they started and who’s encouraging them. All that mattered was that it started.

Next I will be speaking about how stupid i was to believe all these childish ideas.