This post, called “Hallucinations of War,” was originally published in Arabic on the blog “Overdose”, which is written from Damascus by journalist Maher Almounnes. It is translated here by Syria Deeply associate culture editor Amal Hanano.Before this war, I used to be described as the smiling optimist. Maybe it was a blessing to be known to my friends as a good listener, because I would simplify situations and solve problems and so forth. However, I still, despite all the pain, continue to smile. And I still, despite all the weariness, find meaning within every tragedy.My first sorrows were losing loved ones, one after the other, as they left the country. But I would console myself with the belief that we would meet again and that our reunion will be sweeter after our separation.
Then we started losing loved ones who would never return. Their martyrdom was both a source of mourning and solace, as “the afterlife is better and everlasting.”
And when we left our home, I told myself that we were leaving one home for another, while there were thousands who had left their homes to live without shelter.
Then my father lost his job. I soothed my mother and told her there were others who had lost their eye or their leg or maybe even their life; thank God my father had not been harmed.
Then one of my best friends was abducted. The silver lining was that he returned with his head still attached to his body and that all that they had given him were a few bruises and slightly swollen soles.
Between these events are countless details, from having to postpone my sister’s wedding dozens of times to losing so many friends because of politics.
However, these details and others, like watching scenes of death in repetition, are details that every Syrian knows well. Death has come so close to each one of us that we no longer even see it.
All we see now is that we are political commodities or material for the media, or at best we are a number that scrolls on the red ticker on a television screen proceeded by the word: Breaking!
Two years. They seem like 20 years of wisdom and 50 years of sorrow. They made me change how I think about a lot of things. (By the way, I write now because I feel like it, not for any other reason.) But they did not stop me from taking advantage of this miserable reality and conspire with the girl I love.
The irony is, I forced this war to bend to my demands and serve my personal interests.
I claim to be the greatest lover in the dirtiest war. I claim to love her as much as the sorrow in Damascus, the number of the bullets in Aleppo, the destruction of the neighborhoods in the old city of Homs.
Every explosion is another reason to listen to her voice with the excuse to make sure she is alright. Would you believe that I now love the sound of explosions? Just so I can rush to call my love even though I know with certainty that she is safe at home.
Our new home that we fled to is located on the outskirts of Damascus, in a conflict zone. It’s wonderful for your home to be in a “hot” zone, because you have a daily appointment with death. And that’s another opportunity for her to worry about me and to call me every morning to make sure I woke up in my bed, still alive.
I work in a neighborhood where people are often detained. Amazing! A little bit of fear in exchange for more chances to be indulged and receive a few sweet words from here or a warm message from there.
And so what else is there in this war? Snipers? Suicide bombers? Mortars?
How beautiful they all are.
Because of them, I made a pact to never upset her no matter the reason. Because my fear is that death will come quickly, leaving a melancholy gaze between our eyes forever.
I owe our neighborhood sniper a rose. Because of him, I call my love every day, a few meters from my home, and each time it feels like our final phone call. I don’t know how I invent the words of endearment. I’m surprised by the beautiful words flowing out of my mouth that melt her and in turn melt me. Until I arrive safely to my doorstep.
I owe this war: 2,000 text messages; tens of handwritten letters; more than 4,000 “I love yous”; hundreds of kisses, embraces and tears of joy when we meet; and hours of pining and waiting.
Who said this war is all bad? I made the most beautiful love story out of this war.
Forgive me darling, our love story is written in steel and fire.
I swear by the blood of martyrs that spilled over my land that I love you until the last bullet, the last bomb and the last drop of martyr’s blood.
Not only because you are my angel, but because I believe: love is mightier than war.
You are mightier than war.