A private blog for my w-rants, writes and arts.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

TO THE LAND THAT BLEEDS





I have no more tears to shed. I grieve only for my well-ironed luck that has kept me till now. That I have been able to keep my limbs unified, as I have, every page of my diary, is a survival skill I cannot even by slightest chance have in a next life. Since it started four years ago, we have all lived in fear; our goodnights come from the depth of our hearts, as it often ends as goodbyes. Good mornings have vaporised with the fumes of houses that burned overnight. The good afternoons are missing like the limbs of most innocent children around here.

Children! Aren’t those beings too unfortunate to ever be here? I’ve buried five of my own, and do not know if my eldest son, Hashim, is still battling the early morning sandstorms in order to face the military, or if he is buried in a shallow grave now too – if he is buried at all. This war has made us all animals; animals that beat themselves up in a bid to eat insects; animals that’d beat other animals until they sweated or bled, so we could have something to drink.

In the rubbles consisting of parts of loved ones that we live in, and the unending stench of corpses that have raided the air we breathe in, we still pray to Allah. It’s Jumat today and as we have become used to, a person does the Adhan – call to prayer – anywhere he finds comfortable, and people come out of their shells to worship and beg for death. I was running after a cockroach when my scrawny, rabid infested looking ear, picks up the death - begging sound of a desolate man, doing the Adhan. I took a pause, glanced at the cockroach, removed its head and wings, and put it under a shrapnel. Allah should be glorified firstly – begged for death afterwards though.

I followed the Adhan until I saw the man. He looked much more beaten by the war than most other victims I’ve seen. He had a torn piece around his chest, to stand as a shirt, and what would’ve been worn only indoors in the absence of light, before the war, as knickers. Out of my basket of grief, I gave out grief to this man. I wondered how long he would have been begging for death, how many relatives he would have lost, how many times he would have broken down into the white Allepo sand after picking up blown off body parts of relatives. I pocketed my grief when I saw two boys race into the temporary praying arena. Their happiness reminded me of the times I used to watch the sunset with my family. The shiny expression one of them had on looked like one of the many suns I watched set with my family. The sun still comes back, but never will my joy. I wanted to tell the boys to stop the chase and settle for prayer, but I needed the energy to go back to my cockroach.

While I was performing ablution with sand, I heard a woman shouting, her voice being interrupted only by her sobbing; nagging Allah for watching her suffer so much. “wallah, I have navarr warrshipped anothar God. Why did he let my family die without me? Why is he allowing the westerners oppress aas? ... Why is nobody doing anything?”  I watched the woman, who must have been well educated – maybe a teacher – lament before she consoled herself, everyone was busy preparing to pray to God for death.

When the war started, I lost three children in its first year and was totally covered by grief, alongside outgrown facial hair that I never thought of shaving. When we still had transistor radios, I used to lament to the radio about the wrong information being given of the Allepo invasions, but not even my own family enjoyed watching me lament. I had a daughter who used to paint events, she lost her eyes first during an air raid – to shrapnel that were flying about like ninja darts, she lost a limb, weeks after, and finally, she lost her life when she was forgotten, while we ran for safety during another air raid. I picked her pencils and started recording events on the unused pages of a small diary my wife used to record her sales in. I picked the diary from her hand, weeks after I had buried the rest of the body.

I stood in the second row when prayer started because the congregation has not exceeded the second row in weeks, and I wanted to leave early – quicker exit. I have a cockroach waiting. Our heads were to the ground for the last part of the prayer when I felt a vibration. The vibration was so strong sands were shaking vigorously. When I raised my head, I saw sands floating in soldierly uniformity. What could be wrong now? Did he finally answer our prayers?

 I lifted the bones that I had for a body from the earth that my knees were buried in to assess the situation, ignoring that the prayer was still on. Oh! Was it? People were running in utmost confusion, in a way similar to water coming out of a watering can. No particular order, just run. Weren’t these people begging for death moments ago? A tank finally rolls up our little settlement; I thought the size of these things was exaggerated. It had no regular painting, some parts having the known green military colour, some having prints written in Arabic, and permanent stains of red that must’ve been the blood of war victims. I stood there in awe for a ghost moment. Ghost because when the tank started firing shots, none came in my direction, and I was absolutely immobile, right there in front of the big bang.

A soldier, presumably in his twenties, with two faded green stars on his beret, led the carnage. He kept signalling for other soldiers – and the tank – to surge forward. I was still a see-through inanimate object on the spot of the killings. Men were buried by the shelling, children and men with little flesh were vaporised by it. I heard a man cry in the distance, “we are not the resistance, we are the victims, please don’t…” before a bang from the direction of his pleas, silenced him, forever.

While I waited for death to be dished on my skull, faint memories of some lines of a poem my daughter – the artist – used to recite came back to me;

“…on soils white with pride and lacking honour;
when tears cultivate the wealth that sustains us,
who do we cry to?
When the land that was, becomes a land that bleeds;
will Allah forever ignore us?”

A sonic bang, louder than the sound of a truck’s tire blowing off on a lonely highway, came close to my head and I went off.

I woke up days after, to my conviction into the Syrian military.


Allah is praised.

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