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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


To Gabriela

[In Peru] in the worst times of terrorism (1980-1992), there was a journalist who had a weekly column where he wrote about flowers, bees, sunshines and smiles. One day, a reader sent him a very long letter asking him if it was worth it to write about flowers, bees, sunshines and smiles when our “brothers” were killing each other on a daily basis. The answer was very simple and short: Yes.

I’m not basking in detached silence. I have stopped blogging only because I can’t add or detract any value in terms of commentary on the recent turmoil in my homeland. In the meantime I've been reading vigorously what my younger fellow countrymen and countrywomen are writing. I have to acknowledge my admiration to their relentless spirit and their unbending belief in a better tomorrow. I have to also thank some of them for piloting me back to reading in Arabic, something, in my opinion, I neglected far too long for lack of quality. But quality and class they have, and brains and the tenacity to forge their way forward and not float in stagnant water with a false sense of security and perpetual bovine bliss. Politics is not my field. As a matter of fact, and after raising my hat to the new breed of gutsy Syrian bloggers, I should also bring to the attention of the venerable armchair political writers and totalitarian apologists that their silence at this moment in time would be their greatest gift to humanity.

On a distant February day this year I bought a DSLR camera, envisioning all the wonderful places I’m going to visit once I’m back in Syria. I rightly thought that with spring at the door I'll have a chance to learn and hone my photographic skills. I imagined the infusion of pictures and words on my blog and contemplated on how, since I’ve resigned from my job earlier, time would be my own again. I'd dedicate more of myself to this blog, I reckoned, and I'd start my endeavor by documenting how inspiring spring in Syria is. Alas, taking my camera on a Friday and driving a car through towns and villages or riding a motorcycle across the countryside in search of that magical shot couldn't be described as the safest hobby at the moment. I regret the missed personal opportunities but I don’t feel any remorse in the grand scheme of things. If it were not for the waves of the sea and for the flow of the river, water would become brackish. The Syrian Spring has turned out unimaginably more exalting than I could've dreamed.

There’s always a calm before the storm. What we tend to overlook is that there’s always a calm after the storm too. When the winds are howling and in the immediate aftermath of a tornado we might despair from the horrid devastation around us. Yet we have seen humanity triumph over and over again and we shall too. “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another”*. 

*Anatole France