Blog Zena Izbeglica B92

WLOG 001: From Damascus to Beirut

I used to live in Damascus. The city was beautiful. I completed my studies there and got myself a job.

Source: Info Park, Jasmin Dijan
(Alessandra Kocman, Carpets in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, flickr.com)
(Alessandra Kocman, Carpets in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, flickr.com)

Written by: Jasmin Dijan, Belgrade

A year later I got married. One year after that the first daughter was born. Two years later, the second one. And then, in 2011, the war started in Syria.

Our apartment was located in the suburbs of Damascus, and that's where it all started. Our place was wrecked with havoc. Tanks came from the land. Bombs were falling from the air. The whole city was bathed in rain of bullets. I remember the nights were the scariest. We couldn't sleep. At night one feels the strongest fear, when you know no one's sleeping, but you don't utter a word to anyone so you wouldn't interrupt your own thoughts and theirs as well. The biggest fear I have ever felt was then, during the silence. I didn't know what would happen to us, but I didn't cry.

(Fulvio Spada, Marble floor, Damascus, flickr.com)
(Fulvio Spada, Marble floor, Damascus, flickr.com)

Tanks growled next to our building. Bombing lasted from 3 to 7 AM. During those four hours, a feeling aroused that I was never able to explain: the only moment when parents cannot protect their own children. All of us hugged and lay down on the floor. As the detonations were slowing down, so did our breathing. Slowly. Quieter. Everything is going to be all right. I didn't cry.

The following morning we decided to leave our apartment. We wanted to stay at my parents’ who lived nearby, fifteen minutes away from our neighborhood. But I wasn't sure if I wanted to make them know the feeling of hopelessness of not being able to protect us. Also, I didn't know what awaits us in the other part of the city. I didn't know if it was the right time for us to go. I didn't know weather we would be allowed to go, in the first place. My husband went to fetch the car and his plan was to check if everything's all right along the way. He said to wait in front of the entrance in ten minutes. When the eleventh minute had gone by, I started to worry. That breathing again. Is this the longest wait in my entire life. Sixteen minutes had gone by, and there was still no sign of him. Gunfire could be heard from a far. All around. I couldn't tell where it was coming from. I couldn't know if my husband is ever going to return. I didn't cry. I shut my eyes and he showed up. "We can go out", he said.

(seler+seler, great mosque of damascus 709-15 AD, syria, easter 2004, flickr.com)
(seler+seler, great mosque of damascus 709-15 AD, syria, easter 2004, flickr.com)

We got into the car and took off. We were driving through familiar streets, but we were not able to recognize them. I could see people on the streets. Their bodies. They were lying around. Some of them were still in their cars. I thought it could had been us. It could had been us in our cars. For ten minutes we were driving through sights that we had only seen on television before. This wasn't Damascus. This wasn't my city. And then I started crying.

The following days were hard. We took solace from the idea that the worst event in our lives is behind us. It was peaceful for a couple of days. We talked. Children played. I got back to work and tried to sleep well. One morning, while I was at the office, Damascus was hailed down with bombs.

I came back to my parents' apartment and saw them. All of the apartment's windows were shattered. I closed my eyes. My husband came and said: "We must leave Syria".

"Where are we going?"

"To Beirut. Temporarily. Until the situation changes."

"To Beirut?"

Ten days after that I was looking at the harbor of Beirut.

/to be continued/

This blog is based on everyday-life stories of women refugees and migrants who are currently residing in Serbia. The blog was written by an author whose name has been changed to protect her privacy and was produced by Info Park with support of UN Women in Serbia with an aim of shedding light on the situation of women refugees and migrants. The views and analysis contained in the blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of UN Women, the United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations.

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