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.
I remember my father every step of the way. I miss him and I wish he were here. How I wished he could share my joy when I went to college, and especially when I became a pharmacology student, which was a dream he always had for me. Today I made his wish come true, but where is he to bless my success?
I decided to enroll at the pharmacology institution in Damascus. I will study there for two years, then I will continue for another two years in the pharmacology college. After I finish, I plan to open a medical laboratory of my own. I registered and I will start attending my courses in a week. I’m so happy about this new phase of my life that I am starting to see a glimpse of hope; I feel that a whole different life is ahead of me now. I don’t know how the future will work out, but I’m looking forward to living it. Some might think that I might be an adventurous, wild teenager with a handsome guy in the story, but I’m not like that. I have gotten over all that due to the pain of war that turned me into the very serious girl that I am now. At times I’m overwhelmed with joy; other times fear fills my heart. Life is vast with open doors, but my mind always limits it for me with a fear of disappointment and frustration. I feel that there are many strange and scary things awaiting for me; this feeling is because of the crisis I’m going through, because in spite of all the care and attention I received from my mother, I can’t completely escape the effects of the vicious war in my country. I realize that fear is my weakness: fear of the unknown future, of fate. I don’t trust fate any more, for it keeps taking happiness away from me. I have reached a point when my motto has become: after the rain there is always a flood, and after the calmness of the sea, there is always a storm of waves. I’m not weak. I know my goals and I’m seeking them, but I’m a human being, not a stone. And I question where my place is in all of this. Am I going to be worthy of the future? The answer will be revealed the coming days.
Something happened to me that changed the course of my life. I saw a little child with one leg, walking and leaning on a stick, and then he suddenly fell on the ground and smashed his nose. Although his father was next to him, I ran to him and held his hand to help him up, and from his father I learned that they came from one of the damaged areas in my country. The child had lost his leg as a result of being hit by missile fragments, and they came here to Damascus to seek treatment for his condition after a lot of paperwork and bitter troubles. I came back home with so many thoughts troubling my mind. I started picturing the disabled children and young people in every street in my hometown. I felt their pain and suffering, and then there was this weird feeling of missing my town and its people. I miss it and long for it, even after I went through all the trouble to run away from it. I still can’t figure my soul out. Sometimes I see my soul seeking its ambition, and sometimes I feel very weak and vulnerable, worn out by pain and devoid of feelings towards those I love…that’s if I still can feel love!
And for the first time I started asking myself: What have I done to my town, to my people? What is my duty now that I have become aware of and responsible for my country?
I spent the whole night sleepless, and I kept seeing those images in Ghouta, like a constant film of suffering repeated over and over again, and then a crazy new idea that I had never thought of before hit me. The idea was to leave my field of study and move from pharmacology to learning about prosthetic limbs and physical treatment, because my country and its people are in extreme need for people working in this field.
The Syrian crisis is affecting both civilians and soldiers equally. I told my mother and she encouraged me to quit pharmacology as she knows I only went for it to fulfill my father’s wish. She supports my choices. I wish I could study this field abroad, it would enable me to fulfill my duty to my people. Maybe if I do this, my soul will be at peace, and it may calm the restless chaos and constant worries inside me. Is it a right or wrong decision? Is this my desire indeed, or just a reaction to the passion I felt for that little boy? Would I be able to find myself in this field?
I don’t know…but I’m still working hard to find my place in this life, and I will keep searching for it till I can make a remarkable difference.