7 Days Home.. What Changed in Damascus
Damascus is more than a city for me, it is “home”! It is where I saw the light for the first time, where I walked my first step and spook my first word, and when you spend your entire childhood in a place even if you hated or loved it you stay related to it forever.
I spent my first 19 years alive in that city, had unlimited memories in it some sad and some happy but it never been easy to be away.
But after all I had to leave, in order to continue with my studies to become an engineer I went to my original city Latakia, the city of both my father and mother where my family lived for too long.
Day after day I started missing my family, my friends and the life I had before, with time passing I knew that I may never go back to old days but still missing to walk after midnight in old city, missing the huge traffic every single day, missing markets, parks and cafes.
In my first year I used every chance to visit Damascus even if for 2 days, I used to go there twice a month in weekends..
But I wasn’t happy with what I saw, when I left almost nothing was different about Damascus just like it is not affected with other places, but that soon changed and the beautiful face of my lovely city started to change.
I went to Damascus to spend the last week of 2012 there, as I always kept connected with friends there I expected to see sad things.
Many told me not to go as the road is seriously dangerous and people are barely living in my area, I didn’t listen as the main thing I wanted was to see my family and friends after 2 and a half months away.
War was what I saw, destruction everywhere, and the smile became a rare thing on the faces.
I tried not to think pessimistic so I stopped my mind from working till I arrive home!
The first thing to notice after passing the door of my house was a strange metal device which looked very old and rusty, when I asked about it, it turned to be a “babbour”! Some kind of ovens that works on gasoline and been used in very old days. (it is known at least since 100 years).
“this stopped existing 40 years ago, but now it is back!” my mom said. “yes, it is very noisy and hard to use but there is no gas so this is the only option”
It was feeling bad thinking: wow! This war really took us few decades behind!
soon I realized that there is no power either, but that was expected. I remember my friend telling me “we are without power for two days now” that was a month before I went to Damascus but sadly since then the power didn’t come back.
When my father knew the power won’t come back anytime soon he bought a generator, many did that too but a generator isn’t cheap so most people had no choice but darkness.
Even with the generator it wasn’t any comfortable, due to fuel prices (only in black market and 4 to 5 times as its real price) we were not able to make the generator work but for 4 hours a day, from sunset at 17:00 to 21:00.
The few hours with electric power were enough to recharge my phone and laptop for the next day, but as I am not a child to sleep at 21:00 the only source of light for me and my friends was something used since ever and no one used it since decades unless in Chinese festivals I guess!
Somehow people used to live that way by now! in the year 2013 people living without electric power or gas! I have never imagined we would really have to try that.
Previous things are annoying but not really dangerous as what I am going to talk about!
You can live without power, without gas or without many things but can you without food?
There is a real food crisis going on, everything became less and way over priced while the most important food for all Syrians which is bread was really hard to find! You have to wait long hours to get some bread enough for your family for the day and you have to pay twice the price to get it.. That was killing me to see my country which was a big producer of wheat starving because the lack of bread.
I don’t have to talk a lot about explosions, gun shots and artillery sounds going on loud all day and night, it became normal and not hearing it became strange.
If you are on a high building you will be able to see smoke somewhere above the city no matter the time you look, the same black thick smoke I saw on TV on documentaries about wars then I saw it when the US decided to spread its freedom in Iraq.
The same smoke of caused by terrorism under many names, no difference if it was US smoke in Iraq 2003 or Israel smoke in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2009 or Al Qaeda smoke in Syria 2011.
When I was a child my mother used to tell me “these ugly things on news are far from here, don’t worry this won’t happen here”..
You were wrong mom!
In Jan 1st 2013 morning I left Damascus.. left with open wound in my heart and great fear that worse is coming and I don’t want to see it happening to anyone especially my family.