Dear Dlall… A Letter to my friend in Syria

Dear Dlall

I hope you are well. I hope you are safe. I hope you are snuggled by the boiler roasting potatoes as you showed me one winter. I hope you are laughing, clapping your hands with delight, your joy bursting out into the open like a firework.

But this is not what I imagine when I see Syria.

Times have changed for sure. But enough of the numbers, the news statistics, what about you? Where are you? When will I see you again? I’ve got married like I promised, and now have two children. They are all waiting to meet you.

I miss the way you dried my hair before the mirror. ‘Helwe kteer!’ you’d squeal. I miss our trips to the souk for Bakdash ice cream. I miss the dinner parties with your family and friends from all over town from every religion and walk of life. I miss the dancing, the chatting over roasted nuts, the card games, the zhourat herbal tea, the soap operas, the gossip over mate tea, the cooking.
syria tea photoPhoto by Taras Kalapun

I miss your lessons on life. Powerful, simple, true. How just a few words in a language I barely understood remain with me today.

A single lady, a strong woman, a loving sister. An enigma who broke down my stereotypes. Devout and open, kind and tough, easy-going and grounded, hard working and fun.

I’m sorry the phone line no longer works. I’m sorry my Arabic has gone from poor to nonexistent. More importantly, I worry if the ‘click clack’ interruptions on the phone made me wonder if I was doing more harm than good. A British non Arabic speaker calling a Syrian non English speaker. How could they possibly be friends?

But we were. A friendship struck up in a beauty parlour with monosyllabic grunts, giggles and lots of gesturing (as much as a leg wax would allow anyway).

I look for you on the news and hope to see you, but dread seeing you too. No news is good news.

One day this has to blow over. One day the big powers have to stop. And when they do my family and I, we’ll be waiting. See you at Bakdash.bakdash photoPhoto by Graham of the Wheels

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