“It is so stupid to look for a present that is red in color, while your country is sinking in blood.”
This was a note that a friend of mine from my stricken city in Syria recently sent to me. I tried to ignore it, as I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. I bought a red present, prepared a nice dinner and cake, decorated my room with red balloons and lit red candles, while my husband went to get red flowers. I wanted to celebrate. I wanted to live a moment that I had never experienced before. I wanted to live those Valentine’s moments like other people live them. I tried to force happiness onto my life, but, unfortunately, I failed. When I finished, I sat and looked around me, and I do not know what happened to me. The red color reminded me of all the massacres that have taken place in my city.
A series of horrifying scenes started rolling through my mind. I tried to stop myself from going any further, and I tried really hard to control my feelings, but I could not. The image of my father drowning in his blood dominated my mind and my soul. In the middle of all of this, my husband entered the room with flowers in his hands, I think the noise woke me up from my nightmare, and I just screamed. He was worried about me. But when he asked me what was going on, I could not tell him. I felt that I had hurt him. He had tried really hard to bring happiness into my soul that day, so I decided to mask my sadness and continue our celebration.
I find it very strange. Despite all the decorations and preparations, I could not enjoy that day. Have I grown so accustomed to sadness that I search for it and create it when I do not find it? I cannot tell what is happening, but I believe that my heart is still back there in my home city. I cannot live in happiness while I know that its people are dying. I cannot celebrate Valentine’s Day with roses, while I know that roses there are used to say goodbye to those being buried every day. Red roses represent blood and death, not love and celebration. It is not fair to celebrate while my people live in constant pain. Every time I tell myself that I have finally healed, something like this happens, and I realize that I am far away from healing.
Let me stop talking about that day, and let me tell you about my studies here in Switzerland. I feel safe here, especially in my home. Actually, we are looking for a new place in Bern that is closer to my school and my husband’s work. I have been working really hard, hoping to eventually continue my studies and find a job. In studying, I also find a way to escape from my painful past. I try to keep myself busy, because every time I pause for a moment, I recall the past, and I drown in sadness. Although I still do not speak the language, I try, with some help from my husband, to get to know my neighbors. They are very kind people, and I have joined them in some of their celebrations.
My days pass normally, but I am not alright. I thought that I had left my suffering behind me the moment I arrived in Switzerland and married the person I love, but it seems like the memories of my past are stronger than me. I do not know how I will continue with my life like this. I am scared that what I have been through will ruin me, my life and my relationships with those around me.
Fear dominates me. Will I ever enjoy a day without fear? But how will that ever happen when I keep discovering new fears every day? After what happened on Valentine’s Day, I am afraid that lying to my husband might become a habit. I am afraid that, only because I love him a lot, I would lie to him, so that he does not realize how sad I am. What happened to the girl who used to scream, cry and rebel whenever she wanted or needed to? Life is very strange and harsh.