Sometimes I close my eyes and try to recollect the person I was before the coming of pain, before my life became an open register of suffering, not my own suffering but the suffering of others, which inevitably took on personal shades and tones, mingling with my biography. When the Syrian people started to die in their thousands, when their great exodus spilled all over the borders of their lands, when their children started to starve to death, I also overflew my boundaries; I became a vast continent of passionate throbbing sorrow. My own private anguish took on epic proportions, acquiring imaginative insights and visionary dimensions that transcended time and unified it simultaneously.
Then in that continent of pain, I bent upon myself, gathering my shattered scattered existence unto me, gathering the shattered scattered existence of the millions of Syrians that humanity has forgotten. Curled and knotted, I curved the world around my sensibilities. Like a pupa, I wove a cocoon all around me, a cocoon of individual pains and universal ones and withdrew inside the web of pain.
It feels as if I have been bent all upon myself for years out of count, absorbing terrible miseries and torments that unspeakable acts of violence and sacrilegious violations create, spinning all into silken threads which have shaped the enclosed chamber of my chrysalis. As I weave and weave, I absorb the violence and cruelty into my silky enclosure while my soul, like an alchemist, threads it by a miracle of transmutation into shimmering redeeming gold, the gold of pity and compassion, the gold of love and redemption. I have evolved in my cocoon, leaving behind the immaturity and savagery of minds; souls and physical beings that forge the crown of thorns forcing it on the innocents, on individuals, peoples and nations.
It seems to me that nothing can protect us from cruelty, the cruelty of events and the cruelty, though unintended at times, of those we love most, those who fail to love us or those who come too close to us only to forsake us. Love can turn to hate if it is thwarted and love can also turn to cruelty, specially in its absence. Is there no escape from the syndrome of the failure of love to heal and save, for if we cannot save others we shall never be saved. The duty of love is the giving of the self generously, freely, unreservedly in defiance of narcissism and the dictates of the glorification of the ego, and in defiance of rejection or the others failings: their hesitation to accept love because it is terrifying. The duty of love is to continue though the world around us shatters and all falls to pieces or disintegrate.
You might ask why I am reducing everything to love. My answer is that I am not reducing but gathering and binding, expanding and intensifying. Syria has taught me that the failure of the world to love and discard fear, the failure of the world to extend a compassionate hand to millions of innocent children, women and peaceful decent people is leading to the death of a country and the dispersion in poverty, need and despair of its people, seeking refuge in the countries of a suspicions, contemptuous heartless reluctant world. Syria has manifested to me that in order to forget about the untold suffering of a people, the best way is to dehumanize them, strip them of all that makes them touch our hearts and our own humanity. No people on this earth have been so slandered, defamed and smeared as the Syrian people because the failure of the world to help them has exposed them to the criminals and monsters if this world and to all the unholy ambitions, greed and the desire for dominance of regional powers and terrorists alike.
It seems to me as an individual that I have been ill for the last two years and a half, the duration of the Revolution, specially the last year. I can only talk about myself, yet I don’t believe that my experience has been unique. I am not inside Syria, but the long long company of death, the walking in the footsteps of suffering, and pain, the bearing of witness as the cities, towns and monuments of Syria are being annihilated, the ruthless insane destruction of history and heritage, the handling of horrific soul- destroying images in order to document them have left their mark on me. I know I shall never be the same again. My soul has been rent and my mind seared with the irredeemable suffering of a nation and many of its people. Yes, I realize I would never be the same again and that I would have no personal salvation without the salvation of the multitudes, the people stripped of everything and forced to march to the unknown, dragging their children along dusty roads, leaving the sick and wounded on the pavements because they can no longer care for them. The horror of it all, the murky utter blackness of it all surpasses the understanding.
How can I be the same again? How can any of us? I have seen all the taboos being broken; I stood watching as Cain killed Abel ten thousand times, as women, young boys and girls were raped…. must I go on? To watch the undoing of a country, the falling away of cohesion, coherence and consistency; to observe the moral fabric unravel, the brutalization of the innocents, the dehumanization of the victims as they are stripped of their humanity; to discern the savagery and ruthless violence that have unleashed unholy lurking primordial darknesses , to observe and watch the terrible, the monstrous, the heinous or that what is evil beyond evil is to lie crushed under the onslaught of, under the weight of horrors like no horrors because they are the undiluted condensation of all horrors. That way madness lies and that way insanity possesses the mind and the psyche. And to think that all this took place because a people rose to claim their freedom from tyranny.
There are times in history when the personal becomes universal and the universal becomes personal. This is one of them for me. That is why I am all bent upon myself inside the cocoon I am weaving. I am curved inside my stretched elongated sphere, the chrysalis, and my beginning meets my end and all times are unified, times of peace and times of war, times of making and times of destroying, times of unifying and times of scattering. I have passed through all the stages of pain and cruelty which I have described above; never the less, inside my cocoon where I keep civilization and life ticking, the butterfly in me is gradually forming, drawing strength from the golden threads that my alchemy has forged out of horror and annihilation. My Syrian inheritance of the present damnation and the crime named Syria , committed by collective humanity, are being drawn into the vortex that is spinning my wings of splendour. This is the law of nature, of transmutation, of replacing energy, of neutralizing horror and nullifying evil, of restoring the balance between the life forces and death. After the destruction will come the rebirth as long as people believe in it. Civilization lost will be civilization found, as the will to create life out of death is born with the birth of every child and the hidden concealed dreams of the youths of Syria.
I do not know why these images have come to stay with me, why I had to withdraw into a chrysalis in order to remake the world around me. Perhaps the human soul at moments of total defeat remembers that which conquers defeat, giving birth at the time of the beast to grace; perhaps at the darkest hour of darkness, something heroic, immemorial and eternal within our very depths strives to embroider the endless night with stardust. Perhaps the mind that that has been unhinged by the dominion of untold cruelty and suffering will at last find sanctuary in compassion, love and mercy.
My wings grow restless as they feed on silk and gold. My chrysalis is now as transparent as the rays of the sun and the rays of the moon. The moment is come. Out of the chrysalis, an immensity of bejewelled azure blue erupts, flutters and unfurls. My wings are born. Are they my wings or Syria’s wings?