This is the last time I will write from inside my home country, Syria. I have been trying to clear my head, like one clears an old basement. I have mixed feelings and I do not know where or how to start.
My last day was very special. My mother gave us the morning as free time. We were able to do whatever we wanted and go any place we wanted, but she made us promise to be back by noon. I went to school and said goodbye to my friends and teachers. I also stopped by work, and said goodbye to my boss. He is a very nice man and helped me a lot during the many hard times. My sisters also spent time with their friends at a little park close to our house. When we got home, our mother was ready to get going. She took us to the al-Hamidiyya old market and to the Umayyad Mosque. We walked through the streets of the old quarter, bought some winter shoes and had falafel for lunch, one of Syria’s popular foods. When the day began, I was not sure why she wanted us to visit these places, but then I realized that she wanted these places to be the last things we experienced in Damascus—things for us to remember.
We had a great day and my mother was able to make us all happy. Her laughs were a little bit exaggerated, though, and it seemed that she was trying to cover her pain and sadness at leaving her home country. She paid close attention to my little brother. He has almost has no memories of Syria before the war, and that’s why she was trying to erase all the bloody memories he holds. But this can never happen in one day; he actually needs years to forget what he has witnessed since the beginning of the revolution.
At the end of our outing, my mother asked each one of us to buy something. We got to choose anything we wanted. I got a little necklace from which my father’s picture could hang. My middle sister got a book, and my little sister got a handmade woolen purse. My brother got the same candies that he used to get when my grandfather accompanied him to the al-Hamidiyya market. I feel that my brother has a lot inside him that he does not tell. Losing his father and his grandfather at a young age has affected him a lot. I really hope that leaving Syria will help him recover.
We were exhausted when we got back home. Everyone went straight to bed, but as usual I could not fall asleep—I was thinking of what brought us to this point and what will happen to us in the future. I held my pillow and started crying. I needed to let out all of these feelings that I had been holding inside me for a long time.
My mother heard me crying. She held me close to her without saying a word, until I fell asleep in her arms, dreaming of a better tomorrow. ♦
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.