The Last Two Souls

I named both of his eyes: “Forever” and “Please Don’t Go” ’cause I know this kind of love; I’ve been here before. It’s good for a while, ’til he walks out the door. 

But I can’t change, even if I tried; even if I wanted to. My love, my love, my love, my love.

He keeps me warm, he keeps me warm.

Same Love – Mary Lambert

In the wilderness, we travel, you and I. We don’t know each other, we never met. We are the opposite sides of a magnet, we’re on the other sides of the globe. You’re my ice, and I’m your flame. We walk, unknowingly heading towards each other, yet pushing away from one another; and our roads stretch ahead so darkening, so puzzling, but we keep moving. 

I climb the towers of Babylon, and I call your name. I didn’t know at the time that that was your name; deep within, I just screamed it; and it became your name. 

You came through oceans; as if you’re a mystical creature; you heard my calling and you came, the last two souls on planet earth were about to collide, you didn’t know your own name, but I named you, and you answered. 

As we reach each others; and on arms length; we reach to each others with a kiss, lip on lip, hand on hand, and you drawn in my arms; and I melt in yours. We smash into each others like two shadows that merge to become one. We fall deeper into the cursed kiss; and we, so hungry for love, so thirsty for belonging, tight our arms around each others, in a deep cold corner in this world. Around us, circles of green grass is growing, trees are scratching the face of the earth again. The ruins are rebuilding; a stone jumps on top of a stone, the stones rubs each other, as our bodies rubs each others. My hand, firmly grabbing your back, squeeze water from within the mountains and it explodes like a heaven of sparkles; from within the womb of the mountains, fish jump alive and beautiful. Koi fish, just like that one tattooed on my left arm, every kiss you print on my tattoo, another Koi fish comes back to life. 

.. I hold you between my arms, and I look long and hard into your eyes: you’re my unknown lover, my one and only, my deepest secret and my only hope; you’re the dream that I didn’t dare to dream, and the balance to all my fears; you’re my partner, my brother, my father and my son. I rest my head on your shoulder, and it becomes a garden of fresh grass and gentle sun, overlooking a beach of wavy sea; from the sea, a fish is brave enough to step out, and try, and from the heart of the ocean; life comes out once again. evolution has all the letters of love in it; and our revolution over our damned bodies and souls is love read backwards. 

ImageYou keep me warm. You keep me warm. You keep me warm. you keep me warm.

My love, my love, my love, my love.

… and we create life.

As the drams calm down, and the world is becoming heavenly again, we fall into the normal, we face the routine, we fall, we die within a little; then we start our journey once again, and I find you.

… or you find me. 

Walking in [Insert City Name]

Walking in Memphis! But do I really feel the way I feel?! They got catfish on the table, They got gospel in the air. Reverend Green!! be glad to see you when you haven’t got a prayer. Boy, you’ve got a prayer in Memphis.

Cher – Walking in Memphis 

Everything is different in Damascus, that city has its lights that dazzle you, you’re standing in the middle of the street, and you see the shinning lights glowing on the background of darkness; as you walk, they mesmerize you, and they start creating hallows of gold around them, that shines all the way across the dark blue skies. There is nothing like the skies of Damascus, they are so clear, so clean, so dark at night and so bright in the mornings. They are dusted away by angels in those wee hours when only wolves are awake. Just so you would wake up in the early minutes of sunrise; see the drop of dew sliding, like in an amusement park, on the windows and on the cold iron bars of the stairs; right next to the small plants my grandmother cherish and protect with her own life. 

Damascus is a dream that doesn’t come true but for the deserving. It’s a city of hopes and love, hiding deep within the corners of Bab Sharqi, on the rooftops of Al-Hamidieh, and in the jars of spices of Mehdat Basha. Damascus is a song only the true listeners can hear.”

— The way my boyfriend, originally from Damascus, would describe his mother city.     

ImageAleppo is driving in the middle of night, with your music loud enough to wake the dead, and enjoying a breathe of freedom. Aleppo is the guy singing for 16 hours, nonstop, those hard, untouchable, Qoudoud Halabieh, while people enjoy their Arjileh, mimicked across the world, but never the same taste. Aleppo is the city where children play peacefully and safely until late hours of nights. Aleppo is checking out the cute girl in the corner, and she checked you back. Aleppo is the bizarre taste of a first kiss, the electrifying feel of a first touch, the deep inhale as you fall in love for the first time. 

Aleppo is a lady standing on top of a tower, and her hair is long. She let it down only for the worthy, and only the worthy can climb it all the way up to the top. Aleppo is a magician that doesn’t reveal his secrets. Aleppo is a goddess standing in the middle of the desert, and surviving for the past million years.

Aleppo is the deep laughter of a child who is playing, tirelessly, pika-poo with his parents for the very first time. Aleppo is the musical noise of cars honking at me; yet, I’m lost with Aleppo, and cannot be found.”

— My friend Jay, the way she would describe her love for Aleppo. 

Alexandria is a mermaid, with blue hair, spreading her magic over the waves, and calling you to come, as you might never come back.”

” Istanbul is my sister, waiting at home, with a sweet smile, takes care of me when I’m down, hugs me when needed. We might picker, but our love is eternal.”

“I might hate Beirut, I surely cannot afford Beirut, I sometimes feel cheated by Beirut, but Beirut is my city. It’s where I’m from, it’s where I belong.” 

— Some friends I crossed paths with before. 

As I prepare myself to the next chapter in my life, getting myself ready to explore yet another city around the world, trying to see how will I fit in the big puzzle such cities provide. I hear people speak about their mother cities; and I fall in love of their versions of the cities that carried them while they were young. Mostly, I find myself joking inside of my head about the misleading concepts they have for a city they usually idolize based on childhood memories that are most probably twisted and added upon with layers of time and changes that they might actually never been real after all. Yet, like Frida Kahlo, in one of her most important paintings, I cannot help but wonder about the roots of me. Where do I see myself? Which city do I foolishly idolize. I find my answer to be void all the time. 

Image

 

The dream Frida is trying to produce here is of her, rootless, only belonging to herself, while her ideas, her relationships, her life, is growing out of her simple and shallow body; leaving scares unhealed by the time, and streams of blood that cannot be ended. 

Is it me? Am I the problem? Touring the world might have given me much, but it also took away from me the ability to delusion-alize oneself into believing in a concept of a city, where cities are merely locations on a map that are bordered according to the political and historical twists of fate. Cities are rocks, dust, water and fire gathering to create yet another meaningless corner of the world. Why does it mean so much to others, while it means nothing to me? Why do I lack the need to belong to an entity; a city, a nationality, even? I cannot figure that out. 

Cities are landmarks to the primitive notions of human needs to gather for protecting, food and shelter. Knowing that, however, do not help me understand why, this notion of belonging, is haunting me, yet again, as I’m preparing my next move away from yet another city. 

Reinventing

I’m gonna break the cycle; I’m gonna shake up the system. I’m gonna destroy my ego. I’m gonna close my body now. I think I’ll find another way: There’s so much more to know. I guess I’ll die another day: It’s not my time to go.

Madonna – Die Another Day

 As our bodies shatter, we reassemble ourselves in all sorts of acts to recreate the glory that once was our souls. These souls, now hiding in the shadows, are waiting for the right person to put our body parts together. We recreate, we rekindle, we remove parts, we reinstall others, we redesign our faces, our feet, or big bellies, our fat thighs, our body image, and we reinvent ourselves, over, and over, and over, and over.

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I’m sitting inside the bus, getting myself together for a trip that would last around 40 hours, not knowing that the seat I got is broken, and it can never incline, which meant that I’ll be sitting like a rock statue for the next 40 hours, resulting in a back pain that I would ignore while I enjoy my first hours in Egypt, a country I visit for the first time. I was 21 at the time, I was naive and heartbroken.

I pick up the phone, and I call Hussam, a short and tearful goodbye with promises to meet merely months after this departure, a meeting that never took place ever since. As I head to Egypt, I start to think to myself, maybe it is a new beginning, maybe I will be accepted, maybe I would stand against the stream and open my arms wide, and maybe, for the first time in my life, I won’t drawn.

For a year or two, as I go through life in Egypt, I struggle, as you do, in finding my place among people, and I struggle some more with finding myself among all the places Cairo can provide you: What am I? Am I the young romantic writer destined to become a columnist one day in one of the Egyptian newspapers? Am I the new hot dude in the gay community in Cairo? Am I a journalist with a thirst to the unknown? Or am I the Syrian who is missing his country and family and wants to go back? I needed around 5 years to find out the answer to that question: That was about the time that I left Cairo.

I’m sitting inside the airplane, getting myself together for a trip I did not expect, less than 24 hours ago I was standing in the middle of Tahrir square, reporting about what is happening there, and  now I’m on a plane I did not plan to evacuate Egypt to Jordan, I thought, from my whole heart, that I will be back in Egypt in couple of weeks, which never actually happened. I call Jimmy, and we have one more goodbye, we were dating for a couple of months by then, we were getting ready to move to the next phase of our relationship, when I went out the door and I never returned.

As I sit there, in my father’s living room, with my grandmother crying and asking me to stay in Syria and never leave again, I think to myself, maybe I will be able to find my place here once more, maybe I can have friends and family and become who I really want to become, maybe I will plan my life around Syria again, and maybe this time it would work.

For six months, I went through life in Syria, I struggled to find a good home and a good life and a good job; as I’m settling into this new life, getting to know real people, and having the best relationships I had in my life, I was offered to come to Beirut for work. Was it needed? Did I really need the change in my life? Did I have to? I cannot tell, what I know is that I couldn’t say no to this job offer. I packed my back, and in less than a month, I was out of the door.

I’m sitting inside the car getting ready for the three hours trip to Beirut, worrying that the police at the borders might not like me that much and I might end up in some unknown prison, I make a final phone call to my boyfriend, who will follow me in couple of months; I couldn’t handle anymore reinventing, I couldn’t handle reimagining my life, I wanted him and  no one else, and I did not say goodbye, I did not reinvented the world around me, I decided to put my life back together.

Now, as I plan to go to Canada, I know that I’m facing the struggles of settling in yet another new country, Beirut is expensive, heartless, yet beautiful and welcoming. I’m facing the struggles I’m going to face once more when I move to Canada, but at least, for once, I’m facing it with someone I love.

Aside

In the Darkest Hour

It’s like a record going round. Yes, it’s going round, going round, going round. I know I should wanna take it off But I find it hard, why do I find it hard?

I used to have a vision I was sitting somewhere up there Looking down on myself doing right For once in my life.
It changes, hope my life changes. Gets alright somehow. Oh, I’m waiting for tomorrow. I hope it changes, can’t just stay the same, I’ve been out of luck for so long and I don’t get much so there’s nothing much to lose.

Will Young – Changes

It’s hard on him, I understand, I relate. He is sitting there in the shadows waiting for a break in the routine of his life, hoping that his heart would beat again with a joy other than the joy of love. Love makes you happy, but it doesn’t make you complete. He, and I, know that.
He feels stuck, like he has been tide up to a rocking chair that keeps on going back and forward until he can’t feel his toes anymore, and can’t handle his aching emptied head.
Inside his head, he is screaming with agony, like a mother watching her child taken away from a window on the third floor, helpless to get the child back, yet dying a sudden death on all emotional levels: like being stuck at the everlasting moment of the pain of the bullet as it enters his brains. Depression is a bitch, especially if you can’t answer yourself the question that is on the minds of everyone who loves you: “What the hell is wrong?”
He is homesick: It’s clear to me. However, what is he going back to, exactly? a ruined country, a city with  no future, a war that is closing its teeth upon the souls of its people; and chewing. The sound of breaking bones and spilling blood is echoing in everyone’s ears around the world: but who is listening anyways? Who cares for the lives and the separations of the roots in Syria? No one. No one cares.
ImageWhen asked by a friend on when I’ll ever return to Syria, I told him that Syria has been “destroyed beyond fixing, the country is gone mad, and no one can save it anymore. It is now the rule of the  jungle, and the rule of every man for himself.”
So, why homesick? to the bombs? to the deaths? to the unspeakable reality that is being whispered everyday in the ears of the dead and in the wounds of the martyrs? to his family? to his loved ones? That is a concept I’ll never come to understand, simply for lack of experience: Me: family-less, rootless, lost between the countries of the world not finding my own since my very own existence. No toys from childhood to remember, no one to call me son with a loving tune to cherish, no beginning anywhere. 
I’m lost in my own mind while he is lost in his own abyss: trying to find a place for himself in a new city, a new country, with friends that are only mine, with dreams that are only mine, no friends but my own, no dreams for him but the shadows of my plans. If anyone should be blamed, it should be me; for allowing him to love me; to leave everything and come for me, solely me, and now that he misses everything else, he has nothing but me to blame.
… yet he doesn’t.
He doesn’t blame me, he sits ideally on the couch dreaming of what used to be; he talks to friends and family members planning trips to visit that I’m too worried to understand or support. He waits; and the waiting lingers, and the distance between my office and his couch looks bigger and bigger everyday.
Like a haunted ghost, while the ghost haunts the innocent people who just moved to the house, the ghost itself is haunted by his own past, can’t let go of his own stories; and he takes it out on people, rattling houses, creating noises, and scaring children.
The war in Syria is tunnel; and we are walking blind in that tunnel; smashing into one another; breaking each others backs with pain and suffering we carry on our own; and there is a light at the end of the tunnel; but it might very well be a train coming towards us to end our stories, once and for all.

Cabin Fever

I been dragging myself to the lowest of low. There’s such a way I just don’t know. 
If the path I take is something I can change. Well, if it’s in my way is the deepest shame.

Plan B – Deepest Shame

As my chosen solitude continues, days after I broke my leg on a bike ride in the streets of rainy Beirut, I find myself leaving the reality of my realm to the world of my own memories. I sit there, creating in my own imagination, a city inside my head, with wide streets, planted trees, and seven towers that does not look futuristic, but rather look authentic and lovable.    

I sit, on a side walk of my own city in my own head, with no broken leg and no care in the world, I have freshly trimmed my beard; and I have newly acquired a blue t-shirt with short sleeves, and a pair of shorts. I am wearing a sports shoes and sitting in the sun of my always warmly sunny city, looking at the cars, with funny cartoonish colors, and impossible structure, as they pass by me. I smile and try to drawn in the imaginary sun in my imaginary city in my imaginary world inside of my head. However, a sting of cold brings me back to my own house. Broken leg elevated on my desk, blocking the view of my TV from me; the room is dirty, darkish and never sees a direct burst of sun; and my dog is trying to snatch my sandwich from my hand. 

I sight, and I look at the TV.

Two shells has fallen on a mosque in Douma, in the province of Damascus, destroying the area around the mosque, and forcing the people inside to run without continuing their Friday prayer.

 As you watch the video, you can hear, in the distance, the cry of a child who was scared by the sound of the shelling. 

I go back to my city. 

Fractures of a Revolution

Baby I love you, but if you wanna leave take good care,
hope you make a lot of nice friends out there,
but just remember there’s a lot of bad,
and beware, beware,

oh baby baby it’s a wild world… 

Cat Stevens – Wild World

March 2012:

I call my Pierre, one of my best friends, on the phone again. It’s a Saturday afternoon and we were supposed to go to some park in Damascus to play cards with the gang. That, however, changed that morning when we heard the screams of protesters down the road from my house. He and another friend went out to join the protest, I told them not to.

We hear another shot, then a the sound of a big explosion. His phone is off.

I call him again, and rush to the door with my phone on my ear. It’s the other friend, they got lost in the crowd, he says, and he has no idea where Pierre is. He jumps to the window to try and see when we hear another explosion. I grab him by the ankle and scream at him to stay down. We sit, all five of us, on the floor of my living room. Hassan is asking us to pray to God, his voice is cracking, the agnostic inside me shivers, then gives up and start to pray.

We hear a loud noise; then the sound of a machine gun. His phone is off.

I call him again, while calculating in my head the odds of the possibility of regime troops storming houses in my area; we are five people from five different cities in Syria; we’re all guys. We’re a sitting duck for them to consider us a “terrorist group” and shoot us on sight. I keep my thoughts to myself, but our neighbor calls my roommate and tells him the same thoughts. My roommate is freaking out now. “Where would we go?” he asked me, and I thought loudly: “to the roof!”

I look through the small crack in my window, I see regime troops walking down my street with big knifes in their hands. His phone is off.

I call him again, I step outside our house front door, I look up and down the stairs before I start moving silently towards the building gate; opened like welcoming arms, I want to close it, limiting the possibilities of armed troops thinking of running inside, I start moving it slowly, trying not to get the attention of one of the armed troops walking down the road. “Go inside, you son of a bitch!” one of them screams, and I close the door shut and run back to our home. Close the front door behind me and lean on it breathless.

I slowly slide to the floor as the fighting rages outside, his phone is off.

Pierre, a month or two after this mess, got shot in the leg repeatedly while protesting back in his hometown limiting his ability to walk and leaving ugly scares on both of his legs. When he picked up this time to tell me that a family hosted him when troops stormed the square he was protesting in, my only thought was to curse him repeatedly, then to ask him to come home. “Just come home when you can, alright?!”

May 2012:

I woke up before you, my love, and watched you for an hour as you breath calmly next to me in my bed. I grab my mobile and start playing games, trying to adjust the way I’m sleeping so I snuggle up against your body, while having the freedom to play my silly games. You wake up, and without voicing a word, you plant a kiss on my back. I smile and continue my games. Hours goes by, and we’re leaving the realm of sleep to the brightness of the morning.

“I’m hungry,” I tell you, and you smile, “we have so many friends sleeping over from yesterday and we don’t have any food in the fridge, I’m thinking of going down to buy some ready-made Lava peas for breakfast.”

You tell me to stay, pull me down when I try to get up, I laugh while hearing the sounds of my friends waking up around the house. One is opening the bathroom door, with its door’s announcing sliding sound, another is asking a third how he likes his coffee; and a fourth is opening the windows in the livingroom where he slept on the couch. for 20 minutes, we discuss the idea of me getting food, we get into one of our small arguments where we’re both saying the same thing but we want to say it in different ways; we laugh at ourselves and I pull the window open, on top of our bed, while saying that it’s “getting hot in here.”

Next thing we know, you and I are on the floor, with dust and dirt coming from the opened window that its glass would have cracked and fall on us if I did not open it a minute ago. It takes us a moment to realize that there was an explosion downstairs from our building. It takes us a day or two to realize that it was right outside the doors of the lava peas shop I was going to go buy breakfast from right around the time of the explosion  if you did not stop me.

In the afternoon, and after a long morning of clashes between people we don’t know and people we don’t care about. Hunger was the name of the game in my house; no food in the fridge, six hungry men are sitting aimlessly drinking another cup of tea to keep awake; I gather my strength and decide to go and find food outside. “It’s calm outside now,” I tell you, and you grim. “I will come with you,” you insist, and I trick you to stay home and run like the wind outside. When I return, with food and bread, I see tears in your eyes; you punch me in my stomach and you tell me you love me for the first time.

June 2012:

As we are preparing to go to sleep, we hear that explosion, it’s only you and I in the house. We have decided to sleep in the livingroom watching TV, was it “Arab Got Talent”, or “Arab Idol” that we were watching? I can’t remember now. I just remember sleeping under a soft cover, I remember the soft touch of your hand upon mine while we’re watching the show. I remember looking at you and smiling as you absentmindedly smile to something on TV.

The explosion, far away from my house this time, freaks us out, and the insured clashes after it keeps us crawling from the livingroom floor to the bathroom floor in fears of a mortar bomb that might hit our wall and kill us both. We were scared; we tried to laugh it off.

Two hours of heavy clashes, two hours of unstoppable shooting outside. We didn’t know, at the time, that a guy with a machine gun decided to use our very own balcony to shoot at the rebels from. We just found, in the next day, the signs of him jumping from the street to our balcony on the first floor, and the empty bullet carriers on the floor of the balcony around my flowers. We had all the doors locked from inside, including the door of the balcony, and we turned off all the lights in the house when the clashes started.

That night, I spent the night awake, assuring you every time you wake up to the sound of the clashes that it’s “only a dream” and tell you to go back to sleep.

The next morning, we walked in Qudsiya, the streets are empty, the place is deserted; no one on the balconies, no shops are opened, no cars in the streets. Suddenly, we arrive at the main square of the city, and we see the Free Syrian Army fighters, covering their faces with mask, sitting around drinking tea and laughing; we saluted them quietly and they replied the morning greeting. Every wall has the flag of the revolution painted on it; every tree, ever burned down car.

We walk down the street, and a man tells us to go back, “unless you don’t value your lives.”

We tried to go from a side street, but a man told us that he saw a sniper there. a group of men are standing in the center of the street with the supposed sniper, all of them looking up and searching for him, as if they are saying to him “if you’re really a sniper, shoot us.”

After we begged a car to take us outside the city, we looked back and we saw the street we were in being shelled from tanks nearby; we saw the explosions we used to see on TV right in front of our eyes, we saw the big splash of dust flying in the air; we saw death.

That was my last night in Qudsiya.

July 2012:

As I visit Qudsiya for the last time in my life, I get in the city with a car who accepted to take me for a huge sum of money, to pick up my clothes before I head to Beirut. The streets are emptied out, the power cores are on the floor, dancing like a snake. The silence is falling upon the city and not a soul, except for me, is there.

I empty my closet in my bags, and head out. On the other side of the street, an old lady stands on her balcony, she used to look at my flowers, and me look at hers, every morning when we drink coffee silently from opposite balconies. We never said a word, but today she simply asked me: “You’re leaving?”  When I nodded with a yes, she told me to “take good care, everyone is leaving my son.”

I asked her, why she did not leave as well; and her only reply was: “and go where?”

Some nights in Qudsiya

This is it, boys, this is war – what are we waiting for? Why don’t we break the rules already?

 I was never one to believe the hype – save that for the black and white. I try twice as hard and I’m half as liked.

FUN. – Some Nights

It’s 10PM and it’s raining outside. Hazem, my roommate in our little house in Qudsiya is trying to get the fireplace to work; giving us some seriously-needed warmth. Another five friends of ours are roaming the house; Fahed, who is originally from Raqqa, is sitting in the arms of his boyfriend. I never liked the boyfriend and I always thought that Fahed deserves better: However, who am I to judge? I dated the worst losers in Damascus you can imagine. They say don’t cast your stone if your house is made of glass.

The house is broken now. One wall is down and the furniture are covered in dust and rocks. The fireplace? I’m not sure if it’s still in its location by now. Fahed broke up with that boyfriend of his. Fahed is back in his hometown; I assume he is alive. I can’t tell for sure.

Bello is sitting next to me: We tuck ourselves closer under the redish cover, with a painting of a tiger on it, as we try to figure out how much we want love and how badly are we willing to put an effort into it. Bello has this smile; you won’t believe it until you see it. He smiles and his whole face glimpse with lights. He is so innocent and sweet. He holds me closer as we feel the cold breeze coming from some cracked window somewhere. We talk about love and hopes; he tells me that he loves me like a brother. No one ever loved me like a brother. Hazem, in his naughty ways, is trying to lift up the atmosphere: telling dirty jokes and calling me a “sister” of his. I laugh as hard as I can. Then lit the candle next to me as the power turns off: it’s the third time power goes off today. Goes away for long hours. It’s cold. But Bello pulls the covers and ask us if we want to play another round of cards.

That was the last time I saw Bello without the ugly scars on his legs; after he was shot twice there. One bullet went through his left leg and landed in his upper right leg. The other? It destroyed his knee. When I saw him: After months of operations, physical therapy and pain; he managed to visit Damascus for my birthday. He was still smiling that smile of his: However, something little, unmatchable, unseeable, is gone from there. Maybe forever. 

Bisso shows up, late as usual, carrying cheap drinks with him; we cheer him, Bello, Fahed and I, and we start to toss the drinks around. I ask anyone if they are hungry; and suddenly everyone remembers that they are. We think of cooking; we thinking of killing our hunger with some fruits or maybe some tea. But then we decide that “the hell with it,” we want to eat Shawerma. We walk down, Bisso and I, to the Shawerma place; we order food enough for everyone; we laugh as the little kittens in the streets suddenly decided to fall in love with us. We look at a hottie passing by and we start to push each other to go talk to him.

He is in a relationship: Bisso is always in a relationship: sometimes I feel that his heart is so tired of looking it’s just settling down to the available. I tell him so, sometimes, and I let him live his life as he pleases some other times. We go up; talk about his mother, coming to visit from Aleppo in couple of days, and we reach the house; where the hungry squad is waiting for us.

Bisso was stuck in Tadamoun for over a week under shelling. He couldn’t leave his office for a week. The office had no drinkable water, no food, and sometimes no power. When the power was around he’d talk to me on Facebook; telling me that he is eating the last breaks of bread he has. His mother? She is worried that if she, and his little brother, left the house, they might get arrested and the brother would be forced to join the Syrian Army. She hasn’t left her house in Aleppo for two months now. 

We never talk about his boyfriend anymore. I’m worried that if I asked, I might get a sad answer. “He broke up with me,” is not what I’m talking about anymore. 

I’m sitting on the balcony, after a first date that ended up in my house. The guy I’m with is smiling. He is sitting next to me on the balcony. It’s 3AM in the morning and we’re a bit cold; but the streets is empty, and the world is quite. I just wanted to sing. According to the guy, who ended up being my lovely boyfriend, I was singing “Cough Syrup”. I’m glad I picked that song and not Nicki Minaj’s “Starships”. I’m not sure how my relationship with my boyfriend would have went if I picked “starships”.

We are sitting among all the flowers and plants Hazem loves to take care of. They are scattered everywhere on the balcony, from the smallest of flowers to an actual tree planted in the biggest can I’ve seen in my life. My boyfriend did not notice, and maybe I was a bit drunk myself: but there was a bird sleeping on the side of that balcony. I thought it was a good sign.

On our last phone call, Hazem tells me that Qudsiya is burned to the grounds; he is trying to find a house somewhere else but the rents are rising crazily, he is hoping to find somewhere safe but what is really safe anymore. He tells me that he tried to visit the house; but really couldn’t. Qudsiya, the city where I lived for the most of two years when I returned to Damascus, is gone. Disappeared. Nowhere to be found. The Shawerma place? Burned to the ground! The street that the balcony overlooks? destroyed! The wall behind me and Bello is gone. Nothing is left there but my heart. 

This is the street where I lived; or what’s left of it, anyways. 

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