The situation in Damascus has deteriorated recently, and the capital has been targeted by many bombs. The government launched a new campaign to draft people for military service, and now young men are too scared to leave their homes. They worry that they might be arrested at a checkpoint and forcefully enrolled in the “death military,” as they call it. The security service has also been raiding people’s homes, looking for anti-government activists or for young men to draft. And of course, my mother’s practice of helping people by sheltering them in our home has landed us in trouble, especially since she recently welcomed a man who is on the security forces’ wanted list because of his opposition to the government. Fortunately, the man was not at our place when they raided it, looking for him. I sometimes do not understand how she follows her emotions and lets go of her wisdom, how she forgets that her principles might endanger us. In any case, the recent situation has finally convinced my mother that we should flee the country.

This decision comes with significant expense, and my mother was forced to sell the necklace that my father gave her for their wedding, and she cried because she felt that she was selling a piece of her history. As for me, I do not care for old memories anymore. Life has been so hard that my memories have faded. What matters is that selling this necklace will hopefully save our lives. Although I know that she made the right decision, I cannot stop myself from being scared, because it means a new start in an unknown world. Perhaps the war has taken my courage from me and replaced it with fear and caution.

I am happy about my mother’s decision, but I am scared, too. What if fate is toying with us again? Well, at least I will be with my family and I know that we will be able to work together and overcome the challenges ahead. The difficulty in my life over the past few years has empowered me, and I believe that I can now face life on my own, but I would never leave my family behind. I feel that I should use whatever strength I have to support and help my mother. Regardless of all my personal dreams, there is something that strongly connects me to my family. Perhaps it is my unconscious knowledge that we need to stick together in order to survive these times.

Despite my fears, this decision has allowed me to dream again. I tell myself, to try and fail is better than not trying at all. I remember how scared I was when I first left my little city and moved to the capital. But this time the journey is different. This time I will be leaving my home country, and the hurtful part is that my own home country has been very harsh to me and has pushed me to leave. War is a terrifying monster that devours its own children and throws them into exile and diaspora. Our situation reminds me of a story I once read about the civil war in Algeria. I never imagined that I would relate to that story one day. Now I can add many chapters to it. ♦

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.