The Road to a Safer Future

Eesha Zainab

© Copyright 2018 by Eesha Zainab

Photo of refugees.

I sat in the corner with my little sister, surrounded by the cries of hundreds of children as they begged for their mothers. I sat quietly, still stunned by what happened last night. The more I thought about it, the stronger my hatred grew for the world.

It had been about 8:00 pm, our usual bedtime. But Daddy persuaded Momma to let us stay up while he read to us. Sitting on an old stool while drinking tea, he told us stories which took us away from this nightmarish place, away to a land of peace and happiness. I remember Daddy teasing Momma, making her laugh and forget that she was supposed to be scolding us for sleeping too late. At that moment, I felt that we would be okay, in this desolate, hopeless world full of terror and blood and cries of anguish as bombs fell everyday on parts of Syria and Iran from the past 5 years, each day hoping that they would take mercy on us. But this moment of happiness was not to last.

Daddyís story was interrupted by the wailing of the sirens, signaling another air attack. I saw naked fear in my parentsí eyes, whose faces grew pale. Trying to be brave, Daddy told us to grab our emergency packs which Momma had made for us year ago. In 5 minutes, we were standing outside the house, shivering in the cold. Daddy did not join us but Momma assured us that he would join us later.

On the way, I could see hundreds of people running in all directions, carrying infants or dragging carts full of belongings. It was each for his own. I kept worrying about Daddy when my thoughts were abruptly cut off by screams and the buzz of the advancing planer. I saw a woman fall on the ground on her knees, begging Allah to save us all. Fighting the impulse to help her, we continued on our way when there was the sound of a bomb. Momma screamed at me to run ahead and wait for her at the shelter, and ran back towards our house. I screamed at her to stop, to stay. But my words were drowned in the roaring of the planes which were now overhead. I remember being numb with fear, standing frozen, staring at the sight of my neighborhood transforming before my eyes. I remember forcing my feet to move, to run behind an old wall that would offer scarce protection. I remember consoling my sister, telling her that Momma and Daddy would be here soon, that they would never leave us alone, that tomorrow we would hear the rest of Daddyís story. I remember watching the bombs drop down like huge bullets of rain, destroying everything in their surroundings. I remember shielding my sister against the loose rocks that fell on our heads when the old wall swayed due to the impact of the bomb which fell not far away. I remember seeing a huge flame burst out in the direction of our house. I remember screaming and running towards it, shouting for my parents. I remember a man holding my hand and lifting up my sister, running with us towards the shelter, with me trying to resist with every step. I remember the stink of sweating bodies in the crowded shelter, huddling in the corner with my sister in my arms, trying to get her to sleep. I remember my payer to Allah to save my parents just before my eyes shut with exhaustion.

I was woken up by the same man who brought us to the shelter. I asked him to take me to our house, to which he agreed. Walking slowly towards our house, I looked around to see a dead land, with bodies everywhere, people running around trying to find lost family members, mothers searching for children, men searching for their families, children crying for their parents. I saw the pile of rubble that had been our house. I ran forwards, reaching what used to be the front door, and started trying to clear the debris; pulling away bricks and bits of woo d until my hands were raw and bloody. I felt a hand on my shoulder, a voice telling me my parents are not here. My shoulders sagged with relief, but the moment I saw the expression on the manís face, I knew something even more dreadful had happened. I told him I wanted to see them. Hesitating, he tried to say no but I ran past him, leaving my sister with him, asking people where the severely injured people were.

At last, I saw a huge courtyard, full of bodies covered in white. I slowed down, trying to tell myself that there was no harm in checking if they were there, as I was sure that they were alive and well. But my heart hammered against my chest all the same. At the end of the courtyard, I saw my parents. Their faces were uncovered even though their bodies were covered with bloody white sheets. Though their faces were cut and bruised, I could not help but smile faintly at the look of infinite peace on their faces. At least they are together, I thought, as I kissed their foreheads and ran away as fast as my legs would let me before I broke down. I ran back to the house, where my sister was playing with the man. Looking at the sweet innocence on her face, despite the numerous cuts and bruises on her face and arms where the rocks had hit her last night, I enveloped in my arms and finally allowed myself to break down. The man took us to an orphanage where our cuts were treated and we were told to sit quietly. Children of all ages were sitting on the floor, crying for their parents. A strict, old woman was harshly telling them to keep quiet and slapped them if they did not listen.

So here we are, in this hellish place. A man who introduced himself as a member of the UN Refugee Agency told us that he and his team would help us and provide us with food and shelter. But I did not believe him. How could I? How could anyone stop the bombings? The people who gave the orders for the bombings could not be reached by simple members of a refugee agency. Looking around, I can see children sitting with dull, lifeless eyes and hollow cheeks, their faces dirty. Every now and then a new child is brought in, who quickly becomes like the rest of us, dull and quiet. I feel that there is no hope. Many of us have lost our world and families, and are unable to do anything about it. We are the future of Syria. But if this is our condition, how will our motherland survive? We didnít deserve this. Why were these people doing this? What had we ever done to them? Here I am, a 14- year old boy with his 6 year old sister, alone in the world, stripped of everything we had just because of the people who claim to be doing it for us . Why war? Why not peace? Why not help us by providing us with food, shelter and knowledge that we wonít die anytime our enemies want to throw bombs on us?

I would like to request whoever is reading this to think about it. Is it not better to live in harmony as one instead of killing billions and driving millions out of their homes? Is not peace the road to a safer future? Do we need to spend our lives in fear? Do we not deserve happiness? No matter how hard I try, I cannot finish my fatherís story, which was cruelly interrupted, just like our lives and our happiness and security. We are survivors, but what good would that do if we are unsure about the future? To me, a safer future can only be achieved if we put aside our differences and selfish pursuits, and focus on promoting harmony because, if not stopped now, this war could be the destruction of us all, and not just Syrians and Iranians.

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