Thursday, July 24, 2014

No Cheers for the Golden Boy

When some things are broken they can never be put back together again. I sit here and think about how I got here, how things went off on a tangent, and my heart still has trouble accepting everything. It's Ramadan again and I'm supposed to be feeling spiritually rejuvenated after - what is it? - twenty six days. Instead I feel an emptiness inside that gnaws at me. People say we can all move on with time, but I can't, my problem is I remember things. I remember details that nobody else does, and when I remember them they become alive. I keep thinking back to the end of 2009. I had finished a disastrous relationship and had come down to Damascus to be introduced to a wonderful girl. She was wonderful, believe me. The family were ecstatic for me and we had a wonderful engagement party. Everybody looked at us and saw we would make a great couple. I was starting a law course and even though I was still a student I felt like the world was full of promise. It was going to be my Damascene wedding, the one I would have liked to have, with all my family and loved ones around me, and everybody was cheering for me, I was the golden boy. The only problem was that inside I was dying, screaming, and nobody could hear. Something was broken and - though I didn't know it at the time - I needed time to heal, to mend. I pretended everything was alright until the world started to crash down on me.

You never think it will happen to you till it does. It's not a nice feeling to find out that you're the guy who disappointed everyone, who let everybody down. I let the poor girl down too, and I hated myself for it. On the flight out of Syria I said to myself I never wanted to come back to this god-damn country again. I did start to reconsider, but a year later my grandmother was dead. I walked back into a house she had been in only twenty four hours earlier. Everything still had her scent and I volunteered to sleep in her bedroom because we didn't have enough space and everybody else felt uncomfortable about saying so. So I slept in her bed and thought of her and how she looked after us when we were younger and what she was like and how I will always remember her. I stayed in Damascus for two weeks and then decided to stay an extra week to keep my mother company, so that the house wouldn't empty all of a sudden. It was a decision I didn't regret. A week after I flew back to London the first protests started to appear. Within weeks protests were spreading from Deraa to Homs. Our world came crashing down.

People started to leave, more and more Facebook statuses were reaching me from the cities of the world. We were leaving our city and our homes, and reality started to sink in. This was real, unchangeable, irreversible. It was the stuff of life, and it wasn't what I thought it would be. I thought I had all the time in the world and I was so wrong. My second grandmother died, other relatives died or left the country, that girl eventually got engaged, and then she got married. And I know for a fact she waited, but like I said I thought I had all the time in the world. The revolution wasn't over in seventeen days, it wasn't over in a year, or even two. There's not going to be a Damascus wedding, no family cheering for the golden boy. There'll be no ticker tape parade for us boys and girls who wanted to change the world. Now the houses are empty, the lights are off and we are scattered to all four corners of the earth like so much ash.

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