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My Syrian Diary: A Wartime Wedding

Marah, a teenage girl from one of Syria’s besieged cities, shares her stories of life in the war. She recently moved to Damascus to continue her education, deciding to focus her college studies on prosthetics. She hopes to help heal the injured in her country’s conflict.

Written by Marah Published on Read time Approx. 4 minutes

Our hearts and feelings can swing like a pendulum, I discovered in a recent rather special adventure that I had. I was invited to my friend’s wedding, and I accepted the invitation because they insisted (in addition to a tiny feeling I had that I wanted to go). Maybe it’s because my soul was longing for a bit of happiness. I was scared and hesitant because I had completely forgotten wedding and party traditions, as they have vanished in my city. Weddings in my town are now only held inside people’s homes, and most marriages are arranged without a wedding or a celebration in fear of earlier raids and recent bombings. Anyways, all these matters are trivial when there’s chemistry and harmony between the couple.

I prepared myself for the party, and if you only knew how much trouble I went through, because I found myself unable to use the hair dryer that had been laying there for three years. In the end I did my best to look like the other girls. I walked into the hall with my friends, and it was very exciting, lights everywhere and loud songs echoing all around, and there were women and girls moving around elegant tables, all beautifully dressed with the finest hairstyles, exchanging polite smiles. As for the bride, she looked like a queen in her white dress with her friends and relatives around her like her maids, a charming scene that I hadn’t seen in four years. I didn’t even think it existed in this new world; I was wide-eyed at everything I saw. I was staring at everything as if I was a Neanderthal looking through a window to the 21st century, because those years of pain, agony and deprivation of all joy are not something to be underestimated. This is how I felt, although no matter how I explain it, you cannot begin to imagine my fascination.

I was attracted by the sight of the girls dancing gracefully and skilfully. I was invited to dance with the bride, but I refused because I knew I didn’t know how to dance anymore. I used to be one of the best when I was a teenager, when all I cared about was having fun and going wild, unlike now.

The truth is, I wished I could dance madly and be myself again for few moments, but I only stood there and watched, not wanting to be made fun of.

In the middle of the party they announced the arrival of the groom, who had just come from the men’s party to take his bride. There was a special song for his entrance, and the bride moved forward to meet him after she covered her face with her veil. The groom came and lifted her veil and kissed her cheek. In that moment a weird feeling touched the female inside me. My heart moved, and I watched how they put the rings on each other’s fingers and kissed and danced like two little birds, unaware of the crowd around them.

The camera was following them, and a big screen was showing pictures of them as children and teenagers, and of their engagement and wedding. It was so beautiful and exciting. Then the groom gave a little speech thanking the bride for agreeing to marry him, and she did the same, and then she threw the bouquet of roses and the girls rushed to catch it, each of them hoping to be the next bride.

Finally the groom took his bride away in a decorated fancy car, and the party was over and I went back home with images of the wedding in my mind. When I put my head on my pillow, tears started pouring down my face. I’m not sure why! Is it because I was feeling sad about my hometown and what happened to it, and the difference between here and there? I don’t think so … I think it’s just me feeling sorry for myself and my situation. This wedding allowed joy to sneak into my heart and shake it, and revived my sense of femininity after its long slumber. It provoked my desire to be a bride, and I started to imagine how that would be against my will.

But I wonder if it’s possible for me to come out of this crisis as a normal girl willing to love, marry and have a family. Maybe, but how can we forget about the reality that I am but a sick person with no feelings? I have no interest in men anymore, so how can I ever fall in love and become a lover?! Impossible! And if I ever do, I don’t think it would be a successful story, because the crisis ruined all beautiful things inside me in a way that they cannot be mended. Most importantly there isn’t a single person in the world that I can trust, thus I cannot fall in love with anyone. In the end, life keeps swinging us between dreams and wishes, pain and hope, and eventually what happens to us is only what’s already destined to happen, so I only hope the unknown would be more merciful and gentle to me … I only hope.

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