It Is Too Cold: A Voice from 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.
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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