If a jinn spirit were to ask me what I wish for, everyone might think I would want the old, peaceful Syria back. But actually, that would not be my wish. I’ve realized that, right now, it is even beyond my wishes and dreams. Everything just keeps getting worse, and so I’ve adjusted my dreams to suit my reality.
I’ve been trying to make peace with my new, deviated world, so I decided to give myself a break and go out with friends to a restaurant in a beautiful park nearby. The view of the trees and the sound of the water helped me feel much better. I felt like my soul was finally breathing and that I was alive again. But, unfortunately, this feeling did not last long. When the bill arrived I was shocked at the number and realized that I had made a huge mistake. I paid my entire salary for that meal. When I got home I was very upset and embarrassed. My family laughed at me. My mother tried to cheer me up and told me that happy moments can’t be measured in money. Her words made me feel a little better, but despite her efforts, I spent that night trying to figure out how I would survive for the rest of the month. It looks like the price of a few moments of happiness is a whole month of suffering.
It is very hard to change who you are. I tried to abandon all my desires and needs, but I did not succeed. I’m still the same girl who loves life and desires all kinds of things, big and small. I still enjoy buying a new dress or shopping with friends.
I have always wanted to learn new things, to better my language and computer skills, but since I work only part time, I can’t afford to enroll in courses. For example, two months ago, I signed up for an English course and made the first payment, but I had to stop going to classes because I couldn’t afford the additional payments. I also wish I could get a degree in computer science.
I feel that I’m shackled and I can’t move forward. I’ve recently been so desperate to find an exit from my reality that I’ve tried things I used to consider silly. For instance, one time I played the lottery, and another time I went with a friend to a fortune teller. One thing that has changed in me and truly worries me is that I’ve been feeling a twinge of envy at people’s happiness and I don’t want this feeling to consume me.
But I will never give up and I will never stop dreaming. I know that I have not been able to realize my dreams, but I also know that I am a fighter and that I have a great family that encourages and supports me. I always keep Shakespeare’s famous line in mind, “to be or not to be, that is the question,” and I know that one day I will be. ♦
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.