Chapter 4: Love is the real casualty of war

Ram Hiramic writes a diary from the heart of the Syrian war.

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"All is fair in love and war” - I can't remember where I read the quote, but I am sure whoever wrote it knew exactly what war is like, appearing to legalise whatever is done and annulling norms. Linking the inner experience of war and love also seems appropriate – associating the divine with the profane, the diabolical and angelic. In both cases the person involved loses his mind. But it is one thing go out of your mind because you are deeply in love, and another because war has stolen everything from you, even your heart and mind.

It was with this analysis that I started my day. Take my sister-in-law. The 24-year-old Syrian girl my brother fell in love with seven years ago. They challenged her parents , who rejected the relationship because we are a Palestinian family. But they did the impossible. They married last year, just as the first sparkles of revolutionary chaos hit the capital Damascus.

Her parents have now fled to Jordan following a bombing near their house. She is all alone, with both her husband and parents out of the country. My dad, mom and I are all that remain for her.

Her husband Abed, my elder brother, cried bitterly on his last night here. He had been forced to leace his new, cosy house that had been bombed. He left his memories, his friends and most importantly his 60-year-old father, 50-year-old mother and his beloved wife. A war dashing their dreams of having a baby. They dared not have such great dreams now. A baby can wait. But war is greedy. It won’t wait, but rapes the human souls.

My thoughts move to Mazen, my lovely younger brother. The one who struggled with the waves of the Mediterranean; the cruelty of the smugglers, the fear of nine dark nights in the middle of a churning sea. His depression at having left his top marks at high school which could have given him the opportunity of going to the University of Engineering. He, too, abandoned his dreams. He abandoned me….

On the first leg of his journey in Egypt he told me about a girl who was with him in the same group. He has become attached to her. When he called me on Viber asking me what to do, I yelled "Yeah why not, all you need is a love story to make the trip more interesting, go for it , don't stop". And he began talking to her on the boat until they were forced to split the main group into smaller groups and move them onto different boats.

That was the last time he saw her. Yesterday he was desperate when he called. "I thought she would be the love of my life. I even forgot the happiness of being in Italy after all the agony we went through. I searched for her but in vain, I couldn’t find her anywhere. When we were in the boat in the middle of the sea, she was my hope for survival."

And me. I have suffered the same emotional failure after 18 months with Brad, and I don’t know what will happen next. We had decided to get engaged and then married. But that was before his mother and two young sisters were kidnapped. He is from a well-known family with a famous surname.

Because someone in the family is against the regime, their reputation was dashed and anyone with their name can be arrested for no reason. Presenting an ID card bearing the name at one of the many checkpoints throughout the city is enough.

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When the war started, people began to lose each other. I know a lot of couples who split up because they didn’t agree. One was for and one against. There were my girlfriends who cannot find their boyfriends who may be in prison or dead. People have lost hope and feel that Syria is their tomb. They are the living dead in this tomb that is Syria. Not because they want to live, but because they have no other choices than to die in an explosion, from a rocket blast or from a bullet. These are their choices, but not mine.

My willpower is the only thing that can defeat this evil war. I cannot let myself be overtaken by depression. I must get up, get dressed and go to meet him. I want to spend my lasts days laughing and waiting with a mocking smile on my face.

All the dangers in the streets. The stupid and arbitrary checkpoints. Everyone with weapons. The kidnappings. Nothing can take my willpower away from me. Not al-Assad. Not his weapons. Not even the free Syrian Army. And not the chaos. I am too strong.

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