A Journey in Damascus Between The Regime Controlled and Liberated Areas

Translated by; Aishah Barazi

A friend has recently moved from Damascus city to the liberated suburbs and told me that she spent the most overwhelming two hours of her entire life! Those two hours do not even compare neither to her long years of imprisonment nor to anything else she experienced in her life.

She has not left the country since the beginning of the revolution and she lives in area -though not liberated- but it is surrounded with shelling and sounds of explosions. My friend is not a “tourist of the revolution” rather she heartily came here yet spent many hours describing the “passage” she took. At times, she cried, others she looked distracted and words seemed to spurt from her mouth.

As if there are two separated worlds, one before crossing where buildings are standing out tall and another after crossing where the rubbles stand out everywhere. Life before crossing is not real according to my friend’s explanation neither the roads and schools nor the Cafés or the crowded markets. Those facets of life do not ease the overwhelming feeling of fear and chocking from the sight of the city turning into a garrison and detached security areas.

Death is not real after crossing, too -my friend continued her intermittent speech- for the homes are destroyed and what were left of properties were scattered around the rubbles. There is no smile of a child, no strings to dry the laundry on and no candyman wandering around the area. The rooms have opened out to the streets showing their interiors, there was a child’s toy somewhere and a hanger for clothes in another yet no residents or people inside except for the passersby.

My friend said she felt so much fury that could cover the entire world and rounds more. A fury that took away all her fear and worries. A sniper’s shot can easily end the journey at any second simply if a passerby hesitated or was mistaken in finding his/her direction or if (s)he caused some imbalance or delay of the general passing speed.

Someone told my friend that a few days ago, a man suddenly stood in the middle of the passage, no one knows what has happened to him, what was he thinking of, was he scared of something? Has he forgotten or lost something.. No one will ever be able to find the truth because the sniper’s shot dropped him dead at once. In spite of all that she had mentioned, she felt like soaring up in the sky while having to crawl from one point to another. She also felt the horizon was widening when she had to enter the narrowest and darkest allies. She thought how many people crossed those same places and have to take the same journey everyday to bring their basic needs from the areas she came from to the areas she passed to. Life is being made over there, it is being snatched from in-between snipers’ gunfire and rubbles.

She listened to the stories of those who had passed before her whilst passing on that same place. Being an ex-detainee herself, she and her fellow prisoners used to spend the nights tallying up the years they all had spent in the regime’s prisons. Today, the process has turned into tallying the lives of those who were sniped, shelled or slaughtered. One lost a father, another lost a wife and someone else lost his sons. Many are still crossing everyday to protect the lives of a father, wife or son!

My friend told me that some people cross daily to transport a box of formula milk or medicine. They cross that distance while laughing and telling jokes to encourage the new passersby. She is amazed how someone could see or hear what the real crossing is about yet remain silent, neutral or grayish right in the middle of this crisis. She confirmed that in the end, everyone will cross no matter what was the “color” they chose for themselves! However, there is a huge difference between one who crossed on the remnants and corpses of others and the others who carried those in their hearts every time they cross that passage.