Looking For Beloved Ones Among Faces in Mass Carnages

Translated by Aisha Barazi

Looking For Beloved Ones Among Faces in Mass Carnages
Bodies were lined up next to each other in the long dark allies!
Damascus/ Ghouta 

Trying to slowly recall the details of that day, I should blast crying and yelling as supposed to by a “normal” person. I am terrified by the numbness I’m feeling in my chest and the fog surrounding the flash of images in my mind. This is not the required reaction after spending this entire busy day tripping with bodies lined up next to each other in the long dark allies. They were wrapped with shrouds or old blankets only showing the bluish faces and foams that froze at the corners of their mouths, sometimes a line of blood mixed with froth. On the forehead or on the shroud, a number was written, a name or the word “anonymous.”

In every medical point all along the Ghouta area villages that received the bodies of the martyrs and the wounded, same stories and images repeat themselves. The faces of those who steadfast of the paramedics; most of which didn’t survive the toxic gases; and they were repeatedly telling us how they had broken the doors and entered homes to find the children sleeping in their beds in peace and tranquility and would never wake up again. Most of the children had died while dreaming only a few of them made it to the medical points and were rescued. The collective death of families is the most persisting image. The mother, father and children were moved from their beds to mass graves.

In one of Zamalka town mass graves, the father was standing on a long interment the looked endless. There his wife and son were buried, next to them were the so-called family and next are another so-called family. Then, I thought if he was secretly envying families that left this world all together and buried in those tight graves not leaving anyone behind to grief in bitterness.
The sounds of clashes were fierce and really close but none of the people there seemed to care, they were busy digging and sifting dirt on their beloved ones. The burial supervisor was explaining how the corpses were so adjacent tallied up to 140 in that small interment.

Someone said: “Take a photo, take a photo” and was naming the members of a family, “ and there is the so-called family..” We were waiting there as if we had to see that family, say hello to the parents and pet the kids, but we could only see uneven ground and several dry branches of myrtle placed over it.

Whichever place that was agreed on to collect the bodies in any town, the families gathered to look for their relatives. An elderly lady entered begging the people there to show her the bodies of her sons and brothers if they were martyred. The young men helped her lifting the covers off the faces of un-identified martyrs. One after another, she passed through them thanking Allah in a quavering voice because the chances of death of her beloved ones was fewer by one medical point.

In most cases, the members of the same family were dispersed among medical points all through the Ghouta area. Those of them who were rescued and recovered, started a journey to look for his/ her family from one town to another. All of them were angry and could barely hold themselves not to collapse into tears each time they failed to find their beloved ones in the allies of wounded or martyrs or in the lists of names that the supervisors were able to register

The situation of the wounded is no better, especially the kids, once you direct a simple word to one of therm, he flips his tiny lips and try to hold the voice of his crying as if we were going to punish him if he ever openly speaks his misery and cursed the entire world. The first question all the kids asked was about their parents and no one had the answer, no one dared to answer, no one even comprehended all what was going on.

Indeed this is the land of wonders and coincidences that can never really happen in that recurring pattern. Next to one of the medical points, a man stood crying and waving his hands in vain. He said that he rescued 3 women and while he was rushing to the hospital and due to his bafflement, he ran over a man and killed him. When he arrived to the hospital, he parked his van in front of it waiting for a decision to be concluded on him after the man he accidentally killed. Several minutes later, a Mig warplane launched an air strike and chose the point where he exactly parked his van to turn into ruins! Who could ever experience similar incidents within a few hours of his life and maintain his faith that this world is not going to its end and on the verge of judgement day.

Whoever that yet kept a thing of strength and cohesion, blast in a surge of anger towards others and himself. No one could ever imagined that hundreds of martyrs could have been saved, if only more medicine was available, if only the “giving authorities” were not reluctant to set special medical points for those attacked with chemical gases. Even the doctors are angry with themselves from being put in a situation were they had to choose whom to receive treatment in a game of life and death in rebellious Syria. Dr. Majid wrote on Facebook: “I cried and cried today while receiving the donations of the nobles and generous who did not thought that the project we presented 4 months ago, to fully setup a medical point for treating chemical gases injuries, was a necessity and today they were convinced after hundreds of martyrs. I cried when I signed the money receipts for which we paid the price in martyrs.”

The problem does not end here, it continues in our contentment and being accustomed to the fact that every thing is possible and the only way to relatively confront it is to be ready for it. Be ready for shelling, be ready for hunger and also be ready for chemical attacks! This is the most that we can do.

Hence, the following conversation with our own kids becomes a trivial thing in our lives: “My kid, brush your teeth and go to bed it’s becoming late. Don’t drink too much water! If you hear the thunder of a warplane, go down to the basement. If you smell some weird odor, go up to the roof. If you ran out of time and couldn’t do anything, you really need to know that I love you so much but it’s out of my hands. The world is so sleazy and cruel. One day you will understand when you grow up, if you had the chance to! May we all wake up to a real homeland.”