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, a teenage girl from one of Syria’s besieged cities, shares her stories of life in the war. She recently moved to Damascus to complete her high school education, after war destroyed her local schools. Her father was killed in the violence and she now lives with distant relatives in the capital, away from her mother and siblings.
Standing shrouded in darkness, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. My success gave me a new lease on life. Finally, I passed my government exams and graduated high school. I reached the moment I have always dreamed of, the moment I fought hard for. My joy was indescribable, and I felt that the world could not contain me: my heart skipped a beat, my emotions ran wild, and I was overwhelmed by the sheer joy of my success.
Today, I embark on a new journey: I will enroll at university to continue my education. I feel more mature and aware. Do not take me for a fool when I say that my hard-earned degree has changed me, and now I see myself as a new person on the threshold of life after having to weather so much suffering. I am about to open the door to a new life with strong arms and a steady heart. I will try my best to live this dream that I thought was impossible to attain. Here I am, living the dream and walking down a path that leads me to the future. I am well aware that this is but the beginning, but I am certain of the importance of this first step. I will study a subject I love and I will find myself in it. I will excel in spite of a rigid educational system that dictates what you can and cannot study according to your grades.
In my overwhelming joy, I thought of my mother and rushed to call her. Her trembling voice revealed her happiness as she congratulated me with sweet, wise words. She asked me to share the story of my success with my two sisters. They had only left al-Ghouta a month ago and moved in with our great uncle. My mother stayed behind, as leaving the city required a lot of money and even more paperwork, which she had not finished putting together. I heeded my mother’s advice and headed to see my sisters at al-Tal, an area far from the capital. There were many checkpoints, all of which were fairly easy to cross. I reached their house and spent a happy, joyous night, which I haven’t had in a very long time. But it seems that I had tempted fate, and the fleeting happiness I had known was interrupted by heavy shelling on the city, which was soon besieged and whose residents were forbidden to leave. For two days, I was locked up in sheer terror to the point where I thought I was back at my hometown. It’s unbelievable how this quiet city turned into a battleground the minute I arrived!
I wonder why we are denied joy. Are we never to feel real happiness again? I don’t know what happened or what will happen, but I know that I am now stronger and I will overcome all obstacles to live in a new world that I will create myself.