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My Syrian Diary: Reflections on a New Year

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. 3 minutes

I start this diary entry with a moment of silence for the victims of the crisis in Syria, which has seen hideous death and pain. We have lost too many, and we would drown in tears if we were to count them all.

The last four years have been odd beyond imagination. No one could have predicted these strange years of sad Syrian history, when the whole world watched passively, and just waited for what was coming next, with its arms folded.

Now it’s a new year and we don’t know what’s in store for us, and we cannot predict it, because the balance of life is disrupted … it hurts my heart to see how everything has changed. How did this happen?!

When I was a little girl, New Year’s Eve was a very special occasion … it was also my father’s birthday, so my mom would make sweets and we’d all sit together, filling the place with laughter in the wonderful candlelight. I used to look forward to this day, as we used to go to al-Hamidia market to watch Santa Claus standing at the gate giving out candies and balloons.

At the end of the market there was Umayyad mosque standing tall and proud, and on its right was the Goldsmiths’ market, which used to be bustling with members of the Syrian Jewish community. Close to it there was the area of Bab Touma, where Christians mostly lived. There was also the Lady Ruqaya mosque, which is a shrine for the Shiites. All the shops in the market celebrated, and this gave the impression that the holiday was for everyone … you could feel the harmony between people of different religions to the extent that you couldn’t tell the difference between them. We’ve always shared their joys and they’ve shared ours. We respected their religion and they respected ours and we had respect for all religions alike. I remember going back home filled with happiness and joy with a Santa hat on my head, thinking thoughts of peace and love.

But now I don’t know what happened. What distorted our religion with all the killing and horrors, and drew a red line between it and other religions? Sectarianism was spread among us, although we’re all humans and all living in Syria. We were born to build on this earth, not defile it.

Sometimes I can’t believe what happened and still is happening. Everything around us has changed, or maybe it’s us who have changed. We have become very different people from who we used to be. We love what we hated, and maybe hate what we loved, to the extent that we forgot things that we once clung to … our principles are gone.

Let’s allow ourselves with the beginning of 2015 to reflect on the old days. Let’s take a look at the past four years and wonder, are we winning or losing? Of course and without hesitation we are losing, but what did we lose? Our losses are limitless, we lost the lives of many. Many of us are physically or psychologically disabled, our youth lost their dreams, our children lost their smiles. We live a life without hope, our days have no future, there is disintegration, dispersion and homelessness. The most precious thing we lost was our humanity and our self-respect, for we will realize that we’ve been fighting each other only when it’s too late, when Syria sinks in great pain and with deep wounds, and Syrians have lost their dignity and their lives. How harsh fate has been to Syria!

I will close my eyes and wish for a new year in which the lost humanity will find its way back to being human. Let’s all hope this year will be the beginning of the end of this overwhelming mess, inside and around us. Let’s all clean our hearts and minds to find peace … to live a decent life.

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