March 15th, 2011 marks the beginning of the war in Syria. It is the day that the nightmare began and it is the day that will forever mark me and every single Syrian. At the beginning, we thought it was just a matter of a couple of days before everything – granted with a few changes – would go back to normal. Remember when we would say, ” الأزمة خلصت و سوريا بخير (the crisis is solved and Syria is all right)”? We would sit and hear noises from far away, but we did not think much of it. What we did not know was that it was a wake-up call. We did not know that it was getting closer and closer, and that one day, we would not have to watch the news to see what was happening in nearby cities. I remember every single moment of the day everything began. I also remember the day when two bombs were set off next to my school and the feeling I had at that very moment: I thought I was going to die.
There is a common dream that we Syrians have in our sleep. We see ourselves packing our things and returning home to find our memories, pictures, clothes and everything else we had to leave behind, still there, in our homes. The moment you wake up and realize that it was only a dream is the worst nightmare a person can live. Not seeing your home for 5 years is torturous. Even worse? Getting a call from a friend crying her heart out because she saw her house in ruins on the news. Sometimes I actually miss the times where people did not know where Syria was. Now? Whenever I talk about Syria, all I can see is how people feel sorry for us.
As hard as it may seem to believe, Syria was truly a safe country. We had beautiful traditional Syrian weddings and the most delicious food. What happened? We went from a vibrant country full of culture to a state of complete catastrophe. Syria is now one of the most dangerous countries in the world, as everything changed and the nation was plunged into darkness. I do not blame people for not being able to believe that Syria was truly heaven for those of us who were living happily at home. Sometimes even I have a hard time believing it myself.
Nowadays, before going to school, we have to take precautions by ensuring that it is the school bus and not one that is going to kidnap us. When we hear a bomb, we know that there is one following it because one is never enough, is it? When someone leaves home, they hug their family and say goodbye as if it is the last goodbye. They could never know if they would fall victim to a suicide bombing and never see their family again.
When you are sitting in class and you know that at any moment, you may be ordered to evacuate the school and hide in underground, you know humanity has been lost.
When you see a truck full of the bodies of dead soldiers piled on top of each other, you know humanity is gone.
When you speak to a Syrian child who saw his parents dead under the ashes of bombs, you feel as if you are talking to an elderly person. These children never got the chance to enjoy their childhood, for it was full of blood and torture and they grew up too fast – way too fast.
I still cannot believe what has happened. I still remember watching other countries in war situations on television and being shocked and feeling motivated to welcome their citizens with open arms and hearts. Who knew that this would happen to us? I try so hard to be strong, but Syria is both my strength and my weakness. I would do anything to visit my father’s tomb in Syria and bring back those beautiful family gatherings and dinners. How I miss those days. Syria will forever be my heaven and home. It remains to be the country where all religions lived together in harmony, as each citizen was proud to be a Syrian. Syria has contributed so much to the Arabic world and this history continues to be written down and immortalized, as Damascus will continue to be the oldest capital city in the world. No matter how many buildings are destroyed or how many people are killed, Syria will not go back to the way it was – I am determined to believe that it will instead be even better. Never will I ever give up on my country and never will I ever stop being proud to be a Syrian.
This article was written by a guest journalist:
Salma Al-Shallah, who happens to be one of the victims of war, gives you a taste of what Syrians experience, and suffer on a daily basis. But most importantly how Syria went from one of the most peaceful countries in the world to the most dangerous one.
You can write guest articles too! Look here for more information: https://unitedyouthjournalists.com/contactus/write-for-us/