My days repeat themselves in a circular motion—they start and end at the same point. I have returned to my studies. I go to classes in the morning, where I spend time with my friends. But things get worse every year, and conversing with friends has become less and less fun. All the same, those sad conversations help me feel better, especially when I hear about their issues and problems. After listening to them, I realize how small my problems are.
I have great relationships with my teachers; they are more friends than they are teachers. The whole environment is sad, though—male students intentionally fail their first-year exams in order to maximize the length of their stay at school. They worry that if they graduate, they will have to serve in the military. I completely understand: Joining the military right now means death. They prefer to jeopardize their future over joining the army. But how sad, how disturbing.
Going back to school will keep me busy, and distract me from all the problems that surround me, I hope. Since my classes are in the morning, I will work for only five hours in the evening. This will mean less money, but it will still be enough to cover my daily expenses and keep me from asking my mother for money.
Getting to and from school and work is a big problem. This trip that used to take 15 minutes now takes around three hours. Believe me, sometimes I get tired of waiting for the bus, so I decide to walk home. This takes forever, and when I get home, I am usually too tired to talk to anybody or even to eat.
One thing bothers me. My aunt managed to get out of Ghouta a few days ago. She had no place to stay, and came to live here with her four kids, of whom the eldest is 10. This forced us to change our lives and our routines, but, above all, our home has become extremely noisy, and I cannot find time for myself anymore or spend time with my mother. The presence of my aunt and her family has placed extra pressure on my family, but there is no way for us to ask them to leave. Despite all the pressure, we love her and her family, and we would help her no matter what. She has no one else in the big city of Damascus. We are her only hope. I have to admit that sometimes I feel conflicted. As much as I want to help her, I feel annoyed and uncomfortable in my own house.
It looks like escaping has become our new destiny—we want to escape from home, from our responsibilities and from the whole country. What’s left? Maybe I will escape life altogether. The situation keeps deteriorating. I try not to let this crisis affect everything I do, but I always fail in this effort. The crisis is stronger than me. It actually controls my life.
My mother is the only person who keeps amazing me. She still believes that she can make something of us. Despite all the pressure, she is still hopeful. ♦
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.