Dear Diary

June 25, 2014

Another new diarist joins our coven!


I had my first encounter with love at the age of 15. I was walking to school when I suddenly got the sense that I was being followed. I turned around and saw a boy who used to live near my house. He was tall, dark, and handsome, with big eyes. He was dressed beautifully. He wasn’t like any of the other guys I had seen around.

It took him a while to gather the courage to approach me, but one day he came up to me at school and asked if he might have five minutes of my time. He told me he liked me and wanted to be friends. I wanted to get to know him, too, but in that moment I got shy and said no. He looked crestfallen, but accepted my answer.

That night, in bed, I couldn’t believe what I’d done. Why did I say that? Why did my shyness make me act so absurdly? I wondered if I’d lost my chance forever, or if he’d try to talk to me again. Next time I wouldn’t be so nervous. If he asked for my friendship, I would give it.

The very next day, that boy called me on my cell. I’m not sure who gave him my number, but I was glad they did, because we talked for over an hour. That’s when our friendship began. After that, we talked on the phone often, but in school, we ignored each other. We didn’t want people to realize what we were beginning to: that our friendship was becoming our first love.

When Syria’s war began three years ago, the boy decided to fight with the opposition. Before he left our city, he asked me to meet him at the library. There, he told me he’d be gone for two months of training. I cried a lot. His hand reached for my face and settled on my cheek. Our first physical contact! I blushed.

I didn’t hear from him for two months. I was a teenager in love in a time of conflict; I was scared for him and yearned for him. Then he returned and we met once again at the library. We ran to each other and grabbed hands. He wanted to hug me, but I refused—I am from a conservative family and was brought up with strong religious values that prevented me from being physically affectionate with him in public.

We sat in the library for a long time, talking about our present and our future. He said he was going to fight on the front lines in the morning. I begged him not to go, but he had made up his mind.

I got the news the next day that he had been killed. At first, I couldn’t believe it. I cried so much I thought I would die. My mother, who knew nothing of our romance, could tell something was wrong. I finally told her the whole story, regardless of how she would react. (She was not angry with me.) I couldn’t forgive myself for refusing to hug him the day before. I wished a thousand times that I had hugged him. I really did! My sadness was unbearable. That night I had a dream that he and I were together, walking in the rain.

It’s now been two years since my first love died. Don’t mock me, but my broken heart tells me that I will meet him again. ♦

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.


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  • mangointhesky June 25th, 2014 7:36 PM

    I LOVE all of these- every week, i somehow feel like the dear diary entries might as well have been my life story (lol :))!

  • Guadalupe June 25th, 2014 8:18 PM

    I never comment on any Rookie entries (though I read the mag everyday). Marah’s entry this time was so heartfelt I couldn’t just go on without saying a word. Congrats for such a beautiful piece of writing, it really touched my heart :’) Love,

  • clairedh June 25th, 2014 8:36 PM

    Britney I was literally feeling the EXACT SAME this morning. Can I suggest that you read honorary-Rookie (OK I’m putting that title there myself ’cause shes so great) Joan Didion’s essay On Self Respect ( Good luck girl, you got this <3

  • Amy Rose June 25th, 2014 8:54 PM

    HEY, ANANDA! I could read you wax heroic about Lois Lane 4ever, but I’m very stoked that I get to read your thoughts on all kinds of topics to come.

  • Paola June 25th, 2014 9:30 PM

    What’s up Ananda, (I get so pumped for new diarists?) you seem so great (Lois Lane is the bomb)!!

    Also Marah: a killer last sentence that is still echoing through my brain; I think you are so strong.

  • Britney June 25th, 2014 11:58 PM

    Marah, I usually don’t comment but I had to say something. Your diary really affected me. I cried when I saw the sentence about your first love being killed, and I can only imagine what you went through. I’m so sorry. Your writing is beautiful and this entry was a testament to that.

  • book_kitty June 25th, 2014 11:58 PM

    Ananda: ooh new diarist!! yay!!!

    Lilly: I’m away right now too (not very far from home, albeit) but it still feels wonderful and romantic and dreamy and a very good start to summer. :) I hope Ireland is the same for you.

    Marah: Your writing is so beautiful! I loved this piece especially. Maybe its just that I’m in a fancy hotel and I can hear a saxophone playing, but your story gives me the aesthetic of a World War I love story – a young couple hopelessly in love and the soldier going off to war. My brain just does this automatic romanticization of the war that you live in – and then I remember that this is real and current – this is your every day reality. And it makes me realize what privelige I have and I am grateful.

    (I think the romanticized aesthetic I am describing is summed up in this iconic photograph:

    Britney: I love you and even though my feelings right now are very different – I relate. You are strong and beautiful – remember that. ;)

  • strawberryhair June 26th, 2014 4:41 AM

    Lilly, I live about half an hour away from Lahinch <3 I'm so glad you enjoyed your time in Ireland :) x

  • mangachic June 26th, 2014 7:27 AM

    Marah-there are no words to express what you’ve been through. I’m so sorry for your loss and I hope that there’s an end to the war soon, somehow..
    I have to say it seems a bit disrespectful to her to idealize his death…I’m not Marah, of course, but I don’t think she ever felt that him getting killed was aesthetic or romantic in any way.

  • normabates June 26th, 2014 8:25 AM

    Marah this entry was beautiful and heart wrenching, your writing is a pleasure to read every week

  • honorarygilmoregal June 26th, 2014 8:43 AM

    Hey Ananda! Lois Lane is great.

    Marah, that diary entry was beautiful and heartbreaking.

  • ray sims June 26th, 2014 9:06 AM

    ANANDA I JUST FINISHED GCSES TOO HOLLA i think every 16 yr old in england is just eating cake and sleeping now but it’s gr8

  • itssabine June 26th, 2014 11:23 AM

    Once more, all of these are amazing!
    Britney, I can relate SO SO SO much! You’ve put several things I have been experiencing lately into words perfectly.

    Ananda, HI! You already seem super cool :)

  • itsireepie June 26th, 2014 11:27 AM

    Lilly, I’ve never left the USA and I dream of going to Ireland! It’s beyond beautiful there and I wish I could have the experience of a better-than-a-picture moment.

    Marah, your writing is so beautiful! I wish I had the courage to really write how I feel as well as you do. I don’t read the diary posts very often so I’m glad that I did today. You and and the other writers make want to write so much more! I have a paid writing internship that I start on Monday, so perhaps that’s my first step.

  • Erin-Isabella June 27th, 2014 6:40 AM

    Marah, your writing was inexpressibly beautiful. I am so heartbroken for you and your story, as well as always being interested in what you have to write. I can’t actually put in to words how you made me feel to read that, but you have a true gift for writing. xx

  • Yazmine June 28th, 2014 4:35 AM

    LILLY: I am from Ireland and my aunty lived in Lahinch and I too fell in love with it! The sea is always wild and I just want to become a painter in a little thatched roof cottage there!

  • Elsary June 28th, 2014 4:37 PM

    MARAH: I’m so sorry. I didn’t cry, because I don’t cry so often, but I felt pain in my heart, for you and for that boy who’s life ended too soon. Your writing is so beautiful and touching. All the best things for you.
    BRITNEY: I have felt the same sometimes, and still do. It’s so stressing and nerve-cracking, and the part about wanting to feel aggressive: I identify so much! Everyone else seems to show their anger and frustration, and I find pics of those girls in tumblr and we heart it, and I feel myself so weak, not doing the same things.
    LILLY: Your diary was somehow really bright and energetic. I could almost feel how it was, standing in there.
    ANANDA: I’m currently lying on my grandparents’ bed, listening to Rookie’s Be Your Own Hero playlist. I loved how you put it there, because I wanted to visualize it. Great to have a new diarist again! Welcome!
    CAITLIN: I miss winter too, though here it hasn’t been so hot now. But burning yourself is like one of the worst things ever.

  • VagabondZombie June 29th, 2014 12:42 PM

    Britney, I often wonder if I am the one at fault for the situation I’m in. I try to be happy too but I can’t sometimes and seeing other people have a good time sort of lets me down a bit because it makes me wonder why sad things happen to us.

    Marah, my heart breaks every time I read your diary entries but this entry in particular made me even wish that we could all do something to help. My heart goes to you and I hope that one day things do get better. I’m really sorry you went through such thing. :(

    Lilly!! I wish I get to go to Ireland too. Your diary makes me crave of an adventure that will yet happen sooner in my life. PLEASE TAKE ME WITH YOU!

    Ananda can we please fangirl over comic books one day?