War Not Welcome

When I was eight years old, I drank mango juice in Syria and threw it up on a train track. I’ve been scarred by mango juice since, avoiding any offer to taste anything mango flavored. Until the other day. 

I drank a mango daiquiri after realizing the eight-year old girl who became critical towards mango that day holds the last personal memories available of Syria. The taste first manifested as melancholy, but that quickly became nostalgia.

Syria is home to half of my complex yet immensely fascinating, hospitable, dynamic family. The country is home to countless of the traditions and morals that have played a role in my upbringing and still do today. Syria home to a lot of things, none of them being war.

While ISIS and the atrocities of president Assad are stomping on the spines of Syrian people and while Russia’s drone bombs give new meaning to the identity of evil and even America has placed civilian causalities under the same umbrella of justified assistance, Syria will never be home to any of this.

This week, at least 85 people were killed from Assad’s chemical attack. Heart wrenching. From these realities comes a pain so unimaginable and foreign, I don’t know what to call it. I choose to think that the people of Syria don’t have a name for it either, because while their emotions may be hidden beneath masks of silence, Syria is not a home for silence. And while their country’s beauty may be hidden under rubble and wreckage, Syria is not a home for demolition. And while some people may only know of the county because of its six years of war, Syria is not home to war.

Syria is home to devout religious individuals who will relentlessly do whatever they can to ensure they are doing right by God. Syria is home to breathtaking architecture, history juxtaposed against modern innovation, camel rides and family-welcome restaurants almost resembling clubs with such a lively atmosphere.

Syria is home to a lot of things, none of them being war. Syria remains home to my aunt and cousin, just one year older than me, the two last members of my immediate family to stay in the country. Syria may be home to my cousin and aunt, along with their vivacious attitudes and impressive knowledge, but it is not home to war.

I recently messaged my aunt on Facebook to check on them and find out if they are okay and if Syria is okay. I cannot comprehend how life can go on being so close to the epicenter of this disaster. My aunt replied, but not a word was related to Syria. She did not waste one moment repeating to me what has been challenging their country for years. You know what she said?

Her words conveyed laughter, not fear. With immense happiness, she said my cousin is married and now pregnant. She said “I miss you.” She said “we are good.” She said nothing about war, because I asked about home. I asked about about Syria. And Syria may be home to several things, but by no means has Syria ever been and will Syria ever be home to war.