I have a hard time remembering dates, the traditional way of relating to time that is, it’s not that I lose track of time, but my understanding to time now differs from how it was, well, before my first detention I guess.
I used to be a calender person, I have stuff to do in my day, and I have goals to achieve in this month, I try to. Now, time has become turning points instead. For example: I understand time and history when someone says: “when the army raided Darayya,” or when someone asks me “do you remember the Hour Square massacre in Homs?” Yes I do, I remember all of these, but I don’t remember the dates, the months and days that pass.
Time moves rapidly in Syria, that’s why it’s hard to get hold of it. So you remember turning points instead that develop through time. Just a while ago and while I was chit-chatting with friends, I remembered that I was terrified of detention, I was surprised that I don’t easily remember the first fear, because all I think about about, all my energy can only “have time” to current fears. Current fears live with my day, I worry for my friends in Damascus, and I cannot bear the fear.
For example, our first fear of detention is not in any way the same current fear of it. Today, we celebrate the release of detainees because it means they are made it out alive, the usual sentence we used to say to such occasion “thank God you’re safe and sound” is actually now meaningful, not rhetorical like “happy birthday.” It’s not a casual thing you say anymore. Our fear of detention now is different from how it was two years ago.
When I read “timelines” of the revolution on some major sites that the revolution started in March 15th, I don’t find myself relating to this date, because I lived those days, and I know that many protests occurred long before that worldly-acknowledged date.
Time is no longer the time the I used to understand and relate to. It turned into: when my friend was walking to his care on his way back to Damascus but a shell killed him, when my friend was dying alone in his detention cell after being tortured and prevented from medical care, when I was hearing voices of detainees being tortured for half an hour, daily, for two months, when I was reporting to Air Force Intelligence with my SCM colleagues. Time became wounds that live in your brain and prevents you from relating to anything but to the image and the sound of that very memory.
Time moves rapidly in Syria, and against the world.
The past week, for example, many activists in Damascus were calling for help from their friends to find them doctors that would volunteer in field hospitals in shelled suburbs of Damascus. Doctors are now scars in Damascus and there aren’t enough of them that would cover all field hospitals. “Anybody, we just need anybody,” is the common line we are hearing. Two days ago, there was an open call on Facebook for doctors in Syria to join the revolution and help the injured in need of medical care. It’s the first time that I see such call, which reflects how the situation on the ground has gotten even worse. “Even worse,” silly way of describing the situation, really.
An injured could die due to the lack of medical care. Doctors are targeted by the regime, tortured when detained, and often get killed.
Time exists as an urgency in Syria. You hear activists say “I wish I had more time to do this or that,” most activists have turned into relief activists, because no one would fill in this gap. In many field hospitals you find a grocery store owner is helping the injured simply because someone has to, and there aren’t doctors around.
My friends have lost their friends. My friends are now in pain and I cannot call them and be there for them. I cannot bear it, I want to be with them, hold their hands, protect them, I cannot call them and say few words. It doesn’t work that way, you actually have to be there for each other. The usual way of comforting one another no longer applies.
There is no time to process the pain, there is no time to do what you want to do, there is no time to read and answer questions.
Questions. I am hating this word. People love to ask questions about certain topics in Syria and their favorite line is: “we don’t know what’s happening in Syria, it’s confusing.”
I sit in my chair trying to think of a diplomatic reply. “Confusing”?
People don’t ask me what’s happening in Syria, I love people who ask these questions, but I despise people who come to me and look me in the eye and ask me to ease their worries from, umm, “imperialist agendas,” from “Islamists,” and from “FSA violations of human rights.” People like these don’t genuinely want to learn, they just want to “chit-chat” about my pain. The pain that lives in me day and night, I remember Lina’s voice coming from the other side, “I am tired, Razan,” and I know that when she says that, it means that she really, really, can’t take it anymore.
But some people who are “confused” about Syria’s popular revolution and want us to give them “guarantees” that Syria won’t be subject to imperial powers, nor to Islamic control, tell you in a straight face using some intellectual phrases and historical references that I should be “working harder” and “thinking harder” on how I should “preserve” our revolution goals they he or she supports, but is so confused about.
Questions. People have questions. I get that. But don’t come and tell me you’re in solidarity with our revolution. People in solidarity would first open a discussion with questions like: “how is your family and friends?” or “what can I do to help?” before you come and dictate me how we should be “worried” about your definition of a “successful revolution.”
People in solidarity are easy to feel, they’re compassionate and would listen more than talk, you on the other hand, intellectual, are a waste of my painful time.
Solidarity, such a difficult task, but it would tell you the difference between fake and genuine supporters.
To those in solidarity with people’s right to self-determination worldwide, I raise my morning cup of coffee to you, I love you, and my day would always gets better because of your emails, messages and phone calls.