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It Is Too Cold: A Voice from Syria

2 April 2013 4 Comments

Demonstration in Homs. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Amal*
Syria 

“The fire was getting closer and everything that was in this house, from memories, pictures, life, was fading away in front of my eyes.”

***

It is six months into the revolution. It is too cold…there is fear, anxiety, and panic on every face and I do not know what is happening. Is this the sound of thunder or the sound of shootings, the sound of women weeping together with the cries of babies?

Things I hear but do not see, searching for safety, security, and for the end of fear and sadness. In the midst of this, I comfort myself and tell myself it is the sound of the sky which brings rain to the farms. Or perhaps it is fate that all the babies woke up at the same time and started crying, frustrating the mothers, who started screaming.

I was daydreaming until I heard a knock on the door…no no no!  It was not a knock— it was as if someone was trying to break in! We got up and we gathered around each other. This is how our mom taught us to behave in such circumstances. My mom always made sure she shut all the doors…she wanted to isolate us from the brutality, the shooting, and the terrifying fear.

She would entertain us with a nice meal, with a laugh or a memory from our childhood, or a funny story from the good old days. Her main goal was to protect our feelings and to protect us from everything that was going on around us.

The strong noise that was by the door was as if someone had awakened us from our sleep or as if our souls were  departing from our bodies,  leaving us without the strength to remain standing— our eyes unable to look at what is happening, and our ears unable to hear any sounds. But our eyes had seen how the soldiers attacked us not from the doors or windows but from in between the walls!

I was a young lady and they had pushed me aside, leaving me hiding behind the chair in the living room — terrified.

My eyes froze at the scene of my dad being thrown on the floor, beaten with sticks, feet, and guns. And my brother was also getting his share of the beating— being hit with guns and pistols. I could hear my mother’s and brothers’ breathing as they protected my father with their own bodies. I do not know how my eyes handled looking at this, how my ears were able to hear, how my heart continued beating, or how my blood continued flowing in my veins.

The more brutal and harsh they became, the more fear grew inside of me. I tried to hide and protect myself with anything that was in front of me; I cried for my siblings, I saw the blood on the floor and I could not look up. I heard the voices and screams of my mother and father and saw them start fading away and all I could hear was the laughter, the screams and mimicking of the soldiers. Yes, that is how I saw and still see them, but at the time I was afraid to look up and see the devil right there in our home.

Wounded civilians arrive at a hospital in Aleppo during the Syrian civil war, October 5, 2012. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The voices were getting louder; they started burning my house, they burned the house not caring if anyone was inside. One could smell the burning flesh, knowing they had done this to enjoy the suffering of others.

I was afraid so I got up and went towards my mother and father for their protection. I was calling on them with my loudest voice, my screams came from deep inside, but no one replied. I could not lift my father’s hand, nor my mother’s head. No one responded to me, so then I realized they had killed my entire family. I do not know if it was God’s grace that I stayed alive, or if it was my fate to suffer the loss of my loved ones.

The fire was getting closer and everything that was in this house, from memories, pictures, life, was fading away in front of my eyes. My whole life was like a movie being played before me as it seemed to be slipping away.

I was looking for any place safe from the fire, and I located the inside hall. My instinct was to just run towards it, not because I wanted to live but because I was instinctively afraid of the fire and was propelled to save myself.

Then I heard the neighbors around my house saying: “There is a girl alive in there.” They were trying to help, telling  me to get up, but I did not have any power. They assured me I could get up and that they would help me, as the fire was getting closer. They guided  me to step on the new plant pots, dropping a rope that I could use for support to climb and move away from the danger.

I am 15. At that time I was only 13 and God granted me power; I looked behind me to say my last goodbyes to my life, my childhood, the family I had lived with my entire life, relishing every minute I had ever experienced with them as I repeated a statement my mom had often repeated, “InshaAllah* we will meet in Jannah*” and I responded,  “Peace be upon you my mother and father, peace be upon my siblings , peace be upon my beloved family… until we meet again in Jannah  inshaAllah.” I never knew the day would come that I would have to say these words with such strong faith and conviction.

I got myself together and climbed the wall, throwing myself into the neighbor’s house. I do not know what happened then until a few days later, after I woke up, when I found that the fire had burned my hand, my foot, and a small part of my face. The kind people tried to help me with whatever resources they had available, but no one was able to take me to any hospital. I saw the happiness in their eyes as I opened my own eyes. All praise is to Allah, the most merciful, and in all circumstances.

Days passed. My body has recovered but the fire will always be in my heart.

***

*Amal, in Arabic means “hope.” For her safety, the author’s identity is protected.

 *Jannah is the Arabic word for “heaven.”

*InshaAllah is Arabic for “God willing” or “If God so wills it.”

***

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4 Comments to “It Is Too Cold: A Voice from Syria”
  1. Daniel S. Moskowitz says:

    The Situation in Syria is one hell of a Terrifying Horror. How the World can just sit around and Observe it without being able how to figure out how to stop the Killing and the Suffering is beyond me. I told my good friend, Firoozeh, in Iran, that the U.N. should be renamed the U.L. for “useless”. The Economic System can function extremely efficiently in terms of production of goods and construction of Buildings and other projects. However, right now, there is no Global System of Cooperation to STOP GENOCIDE. It seems to be a Reality of the Contemporary World that most people seem willing to accept. Who knows? Maybe, somewhere in the World, they’re Restart the Gas Chambers again? As long as it Makes Money for Someone, it will be a “Profitable Business Venture”.

  2. It is a great pity if women who work for peace focus only on one view of the war in Syria, and on the personal stories which support the stands of Western governments and war. There are millions of personal stories that Syrians can tell. For example, a close friend, who was a mother and a professional woman, was killed earlier this year by a missile. I taught English in Damascus for two years, and met many hundreds of women in the mixed classrooms. I would say at least 90% of them (and my male students) would not support the current armed ‘revolution’. I watch Syrian TV most days, not for any ‘propaganda’ but to see the faces of the people, and it is women who often dominate. The Arab League, led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar who support the armed ‘revolutionaries’, has made serious attempts to censor Syrian satellite TV. Why, one should ask. If people in the West, particularly women, could see the faces and hear the voices of women in Syria, there would be no support for the armed opposition. People would stop and research Syria for an in-depth understanding. The vast majority of women in the world would not support the Islamist militias who are fighting to overthrow the secular government and break up the unity of the Syrian people. Syrian women are like us: they want peace and the freedom to dress, to be educated, to work, to go out, to walk the street alone, to drive, to hold their partner’s hand, to pray in a church or a mosque etc as they choose. These are the freedoms women have had in Syria, but will lose if the ‘revolution’ wins. I have put some of the images of Syrian women I see on television into a video, together with images I took of Syrian women before the crisis. Please check it: http://vimeo.com/56420545 Working for peace when our governments support war is a serious business. It demands time-consuming research and questioning. Susan Dirgham, National Coordinator of “Australians for Mussalaha (Reconciliation) in Syria”

  3. Yasmina says:

    Dear Susan,

    Thank you so much for your comments, and we would love to feature your voice and the voices of your friends in Syria. Please contact us at connectionpoint@peacexpeace.org with an article for possible publication. We look forward to hearing from you, and to sharing your perspective with our readers and networks.

    With sincere appreciation,

    Yasmina

  4. Thank you, Yasmina. Can I draw your attention to a presentation written by a Syrian Australian friend and myself, which you can find at this link. http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.wordpress.com/syria-a-challenging-perspective/
    I hope that is helpful in regards to presenting another view of the conflict. Syrian people want peace now. As I write this, I can hear the clashes on the outskirts of Damascus. Anyone who hears armed conflict in their neighbourhood fears for the safety of their children and other loved ones; they fear for their security. They want peace. It is only natural. Those who want to further militarise this conflict can only want the destruction of Syria. Why? Who would benefit? Questions such as these should be considered seriously. Propaganda has always been a tool for those who pursue war. It should be assumed in the 21 century, that war propaganda is going to rely on what is available to us – modern technology, the internet, Youtube etc. But the ways for fooling a population which is ill-informed and perhaps not the target (yet) of the conflict have probably not changed substantially over millennia. Truth is the first casualty of war.
    Kind regards,
    Susan

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