This post which I am updating now, was published a few months ago. The situation in the Gouta has deteriorated gravely since then. Two million people used to live in the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus Now only one million people are left to struggle harrowingly and heroically for survival under ruthless constant mortar shelling and bombardment, with missiles randomly falling on villages and farms and creating a trail of human death and suffering while setting the crops and the orchards on fire. Those of the inhabitants who have not fled to seek safety in refugee camps, or are still on the road seeking shelter and food, have been punished and denied electricity for 8 months now because the deprived marginalized farmlands, towns and villages of the Eastern Ghouta are part of the revolution. All services and essential amenities have been cut off and there is a severe shortage of food and clean water. Even when the basics are available, the prices are too high to afford. The inadequate medical centers and make shift hospitals have to be constructed by the civilians underground because all medical facilities are main targets for the insane bombardment from the air. The death toll and the daily tragic suffering of the remaining population, as they watch their homes reduced to rubble and debris cannot be described and defies understanding.
Beauty burns Digital image by© Alisar Iram
This is how Wikipedia describes the farms and orchards encircling Damascus: Ghouta (Arabic: غوطة دمشق / ALA-LC: Ghūṭat Dimashq), is a collection of farms in Rif Dimashq close to the eastern part of Damascus,Syria. The Damascus Ghouta is a green agricultural belt surrounding the city of Damascus in the South and East. Separating the city from the Syrian Steppe, it has provided its inhabitants with a variety of cereals, vegetables and fruits for thousands of years. While human settlements in the area date back to ancient times, an uncontrolled development of the area took place throughout the past decades. The increasing food demand by the rapidly growing population of the capital, urbanization and industrial development have increased the pressure on the agricultural lands.
Almost none of the villages of rural Damascus has escaped the savage continuous bombardment of the fighter jets, missile launchers and helicopter gunships of the Syrian army in its endeavor to crush the Syrian Revolution. The daily ground battles between the Free Syrian army and the regular army are adding to the devastation.
That which was described throughout history by travelers , story tellers and literary sources as paradise on earth and celebrated in poetry and legends, has been fragmented and spoiled by industrialization and over exploitation of the water resources, in addition to the illegal irregular sprawling expansions. What is left is being ruthlessly destroyed now by the scorched earth policies of the regime.. I have written the short poem below and created the accompanying images in memoriam.
The Death of a Tree
The apple trees burn in the blinding twilight
Hissing crackled songs of sacrilege
The cherries lay wasted in their bridal white,
Clusters of bombs blossoming atop their branches.
In the distance, a lone apricot tree stands shivering,
Skeletal plumes of wrongness creeping up its bark
and shrieking in delight
to see the sap alight,
Announcing the death of a tree.
Alisar Iram, December 2012