Editor’s note: Marah has been staying with family in Damascus for the past few weeks, where she went to take her baccalaureate. Before she left, her editors at Syria Deeply banked some diary entries to run during her absence; this is one of those entries. We look forward to her return to this space and we assure you that she is safe and sound!
Everything in this new world is unfamiliar. So many of the people I have known and loved are now gone, and now I’m alone, struggling to find my way. My father, my grandfather, and my grandmother were snatched away. I remember my favorite uncle—I looked forward so fervently to his visits. He was hit by a mortar shell and died. I miss him.
My extended family used to gather at our house. That was before the war. I don’t see them anymore. Everyone’s gone; our city looks like a ghost town. Both of my aunts fled as soon as the bombing started—one now lives in Egypt, the other in Turkey. Most of my uncles managed to make their way to Libya. Another one went to Lebanon. The last one is still here. We were once a family, but we’ve been splintered into so many fragments that it would be impossible to reassemble us into a whole.
I grew up in a different neighborhood than where we live now. I used to play with our neighbors’ kids. Those kids are gone now too. Sometimes I miss them so much that I find myself walking down our old street, only to return home sobbing.
I miss everyone. I often call my cousin, who used to be my confidante, and my friend Hanin. I’m attached to the phone—it is my salvation from the darkness that shrouds my city. But hearing people’s voices doesn’t satisfy my yearning to see them in front of me. And the phone can’t put me in touch with those who are gone forever.
Those who have stuck around here are permanently scarred. My uncle is present, but distant. My friends are so consumed with their own sadness that it’s hard to reach them anymore—we’ve lost our closeness. I am terribly lonely. I fluctuate between love for everyone and hatred for the ones who left to lead better lives elsewhere. It hurts to think about the latter group—they remind me of my past, the grand life that I loved, that I still love, but that is painful to remember. The present is only darkness and a relentless, unforgiving unfamiliarity. ♦
Marah’s diary is produced in collaboration with Syria Deeply, a digital news outlet covering the Syrian crisis. It was translated from the Arabic by Mais Istanbelli.