When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Damascus, before the war arrived ...
Damascus, before the war arrived ...
Farah*

-Essay-

DAMASCUS — Last month, I was in a bar with a friend, and I met a nice guy who, a long time ago, I knew only by name. We exchanged numbers, and after a couple of random meetings I could sense his interest in me, and his willingness to take things further.

I'd love to have a partner and a happy relationship, regardless of where it might go. He is an educated writer, artist, a feminist – in short, a perfect fit for me! Except for one detail: He used to be strongly loyal to Bashar al-Assad and his regime. He was fiercely opposed to the revolution and would defend the regime in any way. No wonder we never crossed paths: We had different circles of friends and acquaintances; We lived in different worlds.

When I finally asked him about his views on the current situation in our country, he told me: "Only when the war reached my neighborhood in 2013 did I realize that both sides were liars. Today, they both mean nothing to me." He was very aware of my political views and my history with activism, so we didn't take the conversation any deeper.

We never talked about it again, avoiding any "bad vibes," but I must say that his words stuck in my head. They resurfaced every time I pictured us together and left me with no choice but to erase that picture completely.

After five years of living in these circumstances of war and political conflict, I have reached a point where I can easily be around people who may not share my way of thinking, but only if the meetings are occasional and never last too long.

With this man, I simply couldn't reconcile the idea that he had been so loyal to the regime and so misled. I couldn't see where his educated brain and artistic soul were back then. I simply couldn't take it further. After three weeks of dating, I called him, and we met for lunch in a restaurant near his workplace. Although I spent hours before our meeting rehearsing the speech I was planning to give, all I managed to say was: "I can't see us together. I am unable to start any relationship in the current period. I have tried but we can't be anything other than friends." I couldn't tell him the real reason.

He smiled and gave me that look, the one full of anger and questions. But as we continued to talk, I eventually told him the real reason: that the problem was a moral one. I apologized if this seemed immature. He expressed his disappointment, but we ended up shaking hands and kissing goodbye.

Sense of shame

Now that I think about it and put myself in his shoes, it seems unfair to judge our relationship according to his history. But the Syrian revolution has been so deeply ingrained in us that we can no longer deal with it as a mere difference in political opinion. We carry a deep wound and an overwhelming feeling of shame towards our friends who have died or gone missing.

My whole mentality is based on these facts, on what I have seen with my own eyes, so there is a huge part of me that this man can never understand. This same reasoning applies also to me in some way; I will never be able to understand how he still has respect for certain regime leaders and can defend their actions.

I haven't heard from him since our lunch. I don't regret anything I did. I know my actions weren't heroic, but they raise questions that we will all someday have to think about. How will any one of us manage to move beyond the war? I don't think I ever will.

*Farah (a pen name) is a young Syrian woman who lives in Syria's capital city Damascus with her family.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

A Mapuche family awaits for Chilean President Gabriel Boric to arrive at the traditional Te Deum in the Cathedral of Santiago, on Chile's Independence Day.

Claudia Andrade

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ