As part of a collaboration between Syria Deeply and Rookie, we’re publishing the memoirs of a teenage girl living in the midst of Syria’s war. Marah, as she’s chosen to be known, lives in a city under siege. She was 15 years old when the uprising began. This is the fourth in her series of articles.
We miss those who have left us. All that remains are the memories we have, the sense that their spirit is somehow still with us. But what is strange is to be living with a person you love, yet who feels miles apart.
Since my father’s death, my siblings and I now live alone with my mother. We try to move forward, but it’s difficult to carry on. We feel weak, somehow lacking. Perhaps it is because we lost our loved ones or because life around us has changed drastically, leaving us with new burdens to carry.
I miss my mother, even though she is right here with me. She’s forever working – in the mornings, she sends us off to school before heading to the market. When she gets home, she starts preparing a fire to make us dinner. This routine takes up her whole day. She no longer asks me about my day or my studies. She forgets to say good morning or good night. Her life is burdened with new responsibilities that keep her away from me. I miss my mother. I yearn for her love and tenderness, but she forgets that my need for her warmth is greater than my need for food or books.
Life’s burdens have turned her into a machine – her sole purpose is to work. Perhaps my father’s death left my mother numb, incapable of feeling anything, or perhaps her responsibilities as sole provider are now so great that she has decided to bury her emotions altogether.
I miss my mother. Often, I slip into her bed at night. She wraps her arm around me and puts her palm on my cheek, and I feel her warmth seeping into my veins and reaching my yearning heart. I remember two years ago when she used to play with us – her spirit vivacious, her laughter contagious. She was the one who taught me how to play badminton, cards and chess.
Once she was our playful guide and our companion; now she is unable to teach us anything other than patience and steadfastness. On her one day off, she tries to bring us together and to instill some happiness in our hearts. But I am aware of the façade she puts on for us, and that the glimmer of hope in her eyes masks the terrible pain and sadness she keeps hidden inside. Her first wrinkles have appeared below her eyes.
Sometimes, I see my mother withering away as she tirelessly works to support us. Other times, I feel she has neglected us emotionally. But she is the only one I have left. I am drowning, helplessly trying to hold onto my mother. When you look at her, you see a body without its real soul. I miss her warmth and her gentleness, her sincere laughter, and the sparkle in her eyes.
Words can’t express the feelings I have when a neighbor or a friend talks to her about getting remarried. I lie, telling her it’s her right to get married again, but my mind and my heart can’t accept what my tongue says. She quickly reassures me otherwise, saying she will never let her children down by remarrying, as long as she’s alive.