Illustration by Minna Gilligan.

Illustration by Minna Gilligan.

I am used to using a lot of punctuation—exclamation points, question marks, and commas. However, I am now very hesitant to use any of them. I am scared because putting a period at the end of my sentence means saying goodbye and not communicating with you again.

This diary entry will be my last one, and therefore, I have decided to say everything without hesitation, fear, or embarrassment. Life might not give me another chance to share everything that I want to say.

You all know my story. I have been sharing it with you since I was that innocent little child filled with happiness, whose life was turned upside down by the brutal Syrian crisis. It took away everything that I loved, including my father. When he was killed, I moved from the safe and beautiful world where I had been living, to a scary and painful one. My name, Marah [Joy], did not fit my new world anymore.

My city was bombed and subjected to the Syrian regime’s massacres, starvation blockades, and missiles. I witnessed destruction and blood. I witnessed children dying, and young men being destroyed by war. I was shocked and silent in the beginning, but I reached a point where I could no longer contain my anger, and that’s when I rejected and rebelled against my new reality.

The only person I was able to actually rebel against was my mother. However, she was wise and patient, and she did all she could to contain my anger. She consulted with one of the support organizations, and they suggested that I write down my feelings to express my anger, sense of rejection, and frustration through words. They also found a media source that agreed to publish those entries, and this is how I began communicating with you.

The number of people who read my entries empowered me, encouraged me to write more, and inspired me to share the suffering that we were all living through. My city was besieged by the Syrian regime, and then ruled from within by a group of oppressive and corrupt people. It was impossible to pursue my studies there, so I left and headed to Damascus by myself, despite the risks. In Damascus, I managed to pass my high school exams and enroll in college. I entered into a field that I had never imagined before: manufacturing and installing prosthetic limbs. My choice was inspired by the devastating cases of people who lost limbs in my city because of the war.

After seven months in Damascus alone, my family finally joined me. Our life in Damascus was not any easier than it had been in our hometown, Ghouta. I had to take on new responsibilities to help my mother, who was overwhelmed by many different pressures. Since my father had died in Ghouta, a city that rebelled against the government, the regime and its allies saw us as the family of a criminal. What’s more, my mother was struggling to provide for us in the expensive city of Damascus.

Later, I decided to leave Syria for Switzerland. Although my mother did not want to leave Syria, she finally decided that she and my siblings should join me, because she did not want me to be alone. The hardest part of our journey was when we crossed the Mediterranean to Greece on a little boat. We knew that the boat was not safe, but we had no other choice. The fact that we ended up safely reaching Greece felt like a true miracle. I spent my first night in Greece in the wilderness and the cold, but I knew that I must continue.

In each country I passed through on my journey to Switzerland, I was humiliated in one way or another—I was treated like a hungry animal, or germ that spreads diseases. In Germany, I had the worst experience—one that separated me from my family. When I finally arrived in Switzerland, I met with Karam, who is now my husband, face-to-face for the first time. I had gotten to know him while I was still in Syria though our online communication. I was very tired physically, emotionally, and mentally, and therefore I decided to marry him. I needed to finally rest and settle, and marriage felt like a safe solution.

Despite the difference in our ages, worldviews, and opinions, Karam has given me a lot of love and support. One month after our marriage, I discovered that I was pregnant. I was shocked at the beginning. I did not want this pregnancy to continue because I was scared that with all the suffering I had been through, I would not be able to provide my child with a healthy environment. But the moment I heard the heartbeat of that young being, and the moment I felt it move inside me, everything changed. Now, I cannot wait to meet my baby, and all I dream of is to provide him or her with a great life.

I am focused now on studying German so that I can continue with my studies here in Switzerland. Although I miss Syria very much, my life here is a new beginning, and a new chapter. I want to continue to educate and empower myself, and to one day go back and help my people and my country, which I will never forget.

I have poured all of the feelings that I have had since the death of my father into the entries that I have written here. These diaries helped me survive, and this magazine has supported and empowered me. Writing here has given me the important opportunity to help people understand the reality and the suffering that Syrians are enduring. No matter how small my role, writing here has made me feel that I could do something; that I could uncover some of the Syrian truth, and communicate it to the outside world. I was honest with every word and every letter that I wrote, and I am very grateful to this magazine for helping me and my family throughout our difficult journey.

I am not going to say goodbye, but rather, I will say so long. Who knows, perhaps life will bring us together again through this magazine. So I will not close this entry with a period, but rather with an ellipsis. To be continued…


Marah, a Syrian woman, and the daughter of a man who was killed in Eastern Ghouta ♦

Marah’s diary is produced in collaboration with Syria Deeply, a digital news outlet covering the Syrian crisis. It has been translated from Arabic.