Letter from Syria -- Our Serene City

By NAJAT ABDUL SAMAD
By Fadia Afashe

 

At first glance, our city seems serene, as if protected by God‘s blessed hands... as if spared from the fate of those other tortured cities… cities that have been flattened by invading tanks… tanks that shoot bullets and hatred… tanks that mow down people, homes, and trees.  
 
Yet, it only takes one closer look to see that silent wars gnaw away at the flesh of our city’s inhabitants. These are opinion wars, poverty wars, and hunger wars…  these are never-ending wars that will only worsen even after bombers fire their very last lethal morsel. 
 
What we forget is that there are no winners in war, for war makes us all losers. What we also fail to bear in mind is that these wars against injustice are silent… they are wars where the people are voiceless; their cries are drowned out by the loud noise of  opinions. 
 
We stand silent in the government’s absence. The government hides behind its cement barriers… barriers that only reinforce a separation that had existed for decades between the regime and its people.
 
The cries of the public are left unanswered here as they are in afflicted cities, unheard by both the government and a beseeched God to whom they say, “we have no one but You!”
 
Their shared pain brings the city together. But no one can escape poverty. And not only does poverty starve people, but it suffocates their dignity as well.
Thus broken, how can we build a new a homeland? 
 
One glance at our internal make-up will reveal to each of us that much more remains to be accomplished.
 
Perhaps we should rethink our narrow views.  
 
Perhaps we should learn how to listen better.  
 
Perhaps we should compromise and apologize for old mistakes.
 
Or perhaps we should learn to stand by one another.  
 
For this injured country, from East to West, is my country!  Its people are my people...
 
Perhaps those who are still able to stand can begin to sacrifice some of what they have – for this is the lowest possible measure of faith in one another, especially when there is no government to protect anyone; perhaps a blanket to cover those who are broken, ones whose voices and pleas for help are not heard from behind the doors of their homes, doors closed onto emptiness.
 
Translated from the Arabic by Ghada Alatrash
April 2012.
 

This letter appears in Al Jadid, Vol. 17, no. 64

 © Copyright 2013  AL JADID MAGAZINE


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