Listen to: Memento
How does one begin to mourn? The heaviness of loss is already embedded deep within, but I am yet to accept the course of things that happened, are happening, and those yet to happen. I have read plenty of literature on how to cope with death and understand loss, but you see, none of the notable philosophers provide actual solutions. At the end of the day, it is all theories and philosophies of unconscious and conscious manifestations that don’t necessarily lead to anything conclusive. But then I watch as my country diminishes into ashes of bombed houses, schools, hospitals, and universities, and somehow disconnect from myself. I become this separate entity of thought that questions not only its existence, but the existence of all that is tangible and intangible.
In summer of 2009, I walked down that university road quite a few times to get to Razi Hospital, where my sister was doing an internship at the time. I remember the university road being too long and me feeling particularly parched. Once, I actually went on campus with my cousin, who was applying for a masters degree in language. We stood in the line for a few hours, only to be faced with staff negligence and lack of commitment. Across the glass window, right behind empty chairs of employees who should have been on shift, there stood an A2 banner with the Syrian flag painted and praises to Assad graffitied all over the flag. I remember asking my cousin why such nonsense is hung on the wall, and she hushed me. They don’t take kindly to English-speaking people denouncing nationalistic pride, even if it’s as absurd as relating an entire nation’s pride to its leader.
Quite frankly, I am yet to know how must I feel about Aleppo University’s shelling, with it being roughly a few streets away from home. I am not good with directions, but campus is close to where we usually reside during our summer visits to Aleppo. It is not a case of proximity, but I keep thinking back to that summer, and how I might’ve been studying in Aleppo University today. I guess I’d never know, but at the time I feared that my family would send me to Syria to finish my education. But they didn’t. I first enrolled as an architecture major in my current university, but kept shifting till I found my niche.
Those who died today could have been my friends, classmates, and perhaps I would have had a lover, too. I do not require usage of pathos, but I really cannot grasp what had happened today. I had two exams today, and my biggest worry was making it home without fainting. As much as my health state is worrisome, I cannot even begin to compare, relate, or understand what happened, or why it ever did.
Part of me, which is increasing in parts by the second, wishes I had been there today, walking down that same university road, crossing the bridge, buying sahlab, and then waiting for my sister to finish her shift so we go shopping in Halab’s old souk. I never appreciated my city every time I visited. It wasn’t the city that put out my spark, it was its people and their mentalities. I guess, to every Syrian in diaspora now, those visits are now reminders of a steadily increasing ache that which we once called home.
I don’t know what I’m trying to say here; I am yet to think of a proper thesis for this post, but I am unable mourn properly anymore. Yes, that is what I want to say. I do not know how to absorb death anymore, metaphorically, literally, philosophically, and what have you of -ly. I cannot accept seeing such grotesque scenery coming out of Syria with both hands crossed and tears falling down. Actually, I can no longer cry either. I am not one to translate emotions into tears, though I wish I did. There comes a point where being so far away begins to take a toll on you, and you no longer function in proper terms. I am not sure if this is familiar to anyone, but to me, for the time being, I am dying a thousand times every day just reading the news. I think to myself, what I am doing here, and why am I not there. Then comes a dissonant silence that deafens my ears. I have no answer.