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My homeland, nothing but a pile of memories and broken dreams

My homeland, nothing but a pile of memories and broken dreams

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Opinion Women’s Rights

Monday 27 March 202305:05 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

"أنا امرأة حزينة وعلى حزني أن يعنيكم جميعاً"


"A while ago, I started losing my ability to make things look better. I began suffering from a severe lack of vision and clarity, and it was the worst thing that has happened to me since I was born. I want to get out of here, and that's all. I feel like I'm trapped in hell." With these words, my friend Ranim, a graduate of the Faculty of Media and Communication, answered me when I asked her, "Why do you want to travel?" These words took me back years ago, to a time when the idea of traveling was eating away at me as the final way to survive, but I finally changed my mind through the power of motherhood alone. The adventure of traveling with two children is nothing but suicide.

About three or four years ago, olive green jackets became the latest trend. I entered the race to buy one, like many other female government employees whose dreams did not go beyond buying a new piece of clothing. I sat down and stared at my salary, which, at the time, was not more than one hundred thousand Syrian pounds, or about twenty dollars, and after lengthy and extensive calculations, I set the desired budget that would enable me to buy the jacket in just two months. But, unfortunately, my plan was incomplete. What miracle could stabilize prices in a country like Syria for two full months?

I modified the plan over and over again, and every time, I lost the race, and the government won.

Since the beginning of the war, I have been trying to achieve a little economic balance, but I still haven't been able to do so. I am stuck at the same point, spinning around myself, under the delusion that I am moving, but the truth is that the world is the one that is moving, and we in Syria are only getting dizzy.

Everything that surrounds us is fake, unfair, unrealistic, and inhuman, but we are all powerless to reject it. We all have the same excuse. We have fear, the only unquestionable truth in this country

We are all about to fall. An entire nation is living its normal life, which they feel is harmonious, consistent, natural, and realistic, and suddenly they realize that they are living the moment right before the fall, and everything that surrounds them is fake, unfair, unrealistic, and inhuman, but we are all powerless to reject it. We all have the same excuse. We have fear, the only unquestionable truth in this country.

My homeland, a pile of memories

Does our homeland deserve all this grief that we are all living through? Do we truly know what this word means?

During these times, my memory takes me back twenty years ago; I remember myself at that time, and despite the weight of this word, I am actually ashamed of my excessive naivety and the person I used to be. I ask myself over and over again, if Syria hadn't gone through what it went through, would I be thinking the same way now? Or would I, at best, be passing the flag from one hand to another?

What we all thought was our homeland was nothing but the friends we shared a part of our lives with. It was nothing but the long evenings in front of our TV screens, cheering for a Syrian contestant in one of the Arab talent shows, and feeling proud if they won. The homeland was nothing but that false sense of security, and when they all left, the homeland went with them.

At the gates of airports, in the seas, in front of stores, and in refugee camps, our homeland died over and over again, until we finally became devoid of any belonging or identity.

The war made us realize how fragile our belonging to it was, and how we were deceived by those ringing slogans and long speeches. The poet Ahmed Matar says:

"If it is not noble and secure for us,

And if it is not respected and is not free,

Then neither do we live... and nor does the homeland"


My friend told me that, after less than five years of being in Germany, she began to feel that she belonged there more than she belonged to Syria. She said, "It is only here I was finally able to be myself. I'm not claiming or pretending that everything is perfect in Germany, but at least I am not afraid. I know full well that there is a law that protects me. All that ties me to Syria now is just a handful of memories, and half of them are painful memories."

She then said, "I understand very well now that the homeland is not just a wooden bench in a garden, or a beautiful song and a cup of coffee, and certainly not that poem we all memorized by heart. The homeland is the place where you feel human, where your dignity is preserved, and your rights are protected. It's a place where you find yourself and you don't lose it. It's not a place that distributes its children to the world like consolation prizes, as our country did."

I remember what she told me word for word, as I stand in front of a store watching a man who has been standing for half an hour staring at the children's clothes displayed in the storefront.

From Syria.. Here is hell

My eight-year-old daughter asks me, "Why are we living?" I couldn't look her in the eyes, and even though I have many eloquent answers and nice phrases, I settled for one sentence that I thought was the most honest: "I don't know". I then hugged her tightly to my chest and then spent the rest of my day cursing a country where children question the point of their existence and the meaning of their lives.

The problems of children here have become different from that of anywhere else in the world, and even their dreams as well. All their dreams nowadays boil down to the idea of leaving – leaving meaning survival. "When I grow up, I will travel far away from here"; this phrase is a reality that is not of my own making, and is not the making of a bitter woman's imagination. It's the dream of most of my students when I ask them: What do you want to be in the future?

My 8-year-old daughter asks me, "Why are we living?" I couldn't look her in the eyes, and settled for what I felt was the most honest answer: "I don't know". I spent the rest of my day cursing a country where children question the meaning of their existence

For the longest time, I haven't heard anyone say they want to become a doctor, engineer, actor, or singer. In fact, no one cares what they'll be anymore.. They will be anything, it doesn't matter, as long as it's far away from here.

"The war did extraordinary things to people. And what was more extraordinary than the way it killed people was the way it sometimes didn't kill them"; this sentence, said by George Orwell's protagonist in the novel "Coming Up for Air" wouldn't sit well with the Syrians who weren't killed by the war. What the war did to us is greater than mere killing, and crueler than dying once. Here, we die hundreds of times a day, in various ways and in the most horrible ones, from unjust decisions, the prices that exceed our capabilities, the needs of our children, to our suppressed desires, and our daily needs that have become dreams.

In this country, we need joy, we need a bed to carry us, and we need a dream that doesn't remain small, a real dream that grows outside our heads.

I am a metaphor for all Syrians

Hello, humans outside this big grave. Hello, women who are preoccupied with the color of their Thursday evening gown, and men who mourn the loss of their favorite team. Hello, fathers who know how to fill their children's bellies. Hello..

I am Riham Issa, a 33 year old from Syria.

I lived in what they call safe areas. In my country's culture, we do not recognize violence or psychological harm. I demand the world to acknowledge my right to belong to a homeland, one that recognizes my right to life, a homeland whose officials don't consider buying a tomato a luxury.

I am Riham Issa, a woman who is constantly anxious and suffers from insomnia and depression. I am a woman who has experienced the horrors of war, I am a woman that war has done worse than kill. I am a sad woman and my sadness should concern you all

I demand my share of happiness and my right to buy a bottle of perfume without causing an economic collapse within my family.

I want to take back my children's dreams and their lives. I want to hang up bright white laundry. My mother will not forgive me for hanging my dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively, in public. I demand my rights from those who turned my dreams into the current state of despair that you hear.

I demand my right to cry for Hatem Ali, Sabah Fakhri, and my grandmother who passed away, whose news of her passing hit me like the news of the rise in the prices of potatoes.

I want a homeland without issues, crises, or denied rights. A homeland without darkness, and without death boats.

I am Riham Issa, a woman who is constantly anxious and suffers from insomnia and depression, and these are not personal issues.

I am a woman who has experienced the horrors of war, I am a woman whom war has done worse than kill. I am a sad woman and my sadness should concern you all.



* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22

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