Meera M. Zaroor
A whole class silenced by listening to Mera's story
Mera M. Zaroor is 18 and she's from Homs, Siria. She's been living in Barcelona for three years now. Studying mostly science in school, she wants to become a doctor in medicine so she could work in a refugees camp or a non-profit organisation. Ever since a kid she used to learn piano and play tennis as a junior proffessional back at home. Due to the start of the war she was forced to stop both activities, she recalls. Only eleven years old when, in the middle of a class, some bombs were being dropped. She perfectly remembers and has no intention to forget it. In fact sometimes she would read about war stories with happy ending that could let her to believe all this mess occuring in her country will just vanish. Now in Barcelona she's back on the piano and babysits a little girl. Meera is now a remarcable student and last year she was the top student of her Catalan class.
What you are about to read is a story written by Meera as a school paper. She tells about the witness of a refugee girl she met not a long ago. Her proffessors thought it was an excelent work and her classmates still do recall this tough story.
Hi, my name is Salma. I'm 16 and i am from Siria. This is my diary. I wish this was an ordinary day. I see myself in my room writting in this notebook while my family is sitting in the couch watching tv and my siblings argue about who's taking daddy's car. But that is not happening actually. This is the worst nightmare.
I left my family. Why did I? My father was arrested. My brothers are fighting with the Free Sirian Army. And indeed, you are to ask me where my mom is. Well, she died in front of me while we were heading the border of the country.
I can't feel anything really, and I see myself sorrounded by more than 500 people right now. Can't feel my feet, can't breath; but I'm still alive, despite all I've seen.
In this very moment there's a kid sitting by my side, I can tell he's so scared. Can't stand seeing someone that frightened, and he seems about to cry.
– Hi, what's your name? - I said
He looked at me. He looked kind of younger.
– Hi..., I'm Ibrahim a... and you?
– I'm Salma. A pleassure to meet you. - I said while grabbing his hand. I thought it'd help making him feel better.
– Where are you from?
– I'm from Mali, and you?- He responded
– I'm from Siria. Where's your family?
– I do... Don't know, I'm so scared.- He said. And started crying.
I feel so bad about him so i just hug him. "Don't you worry, sweetheart", I said. Here is where we start talking about his life: his dad left his mom. She takes care of his two sisters and him, the little one. I feel like i need to take care of him. Maybe because he is younger, maybe he just reminds me of my little cousin whom I used to take care of back in Siria. I started joking with him so he would relax and feel better.
While we were talking the wind started to give harsh blows and suddendly big waves hit our boat. Some people were panicking and screaming. At that moment I had no clue on how I was supposed to feel nor do. All I did was keep Ibrahim in my arms and whisper in his ear beautiful words to keep him calmed. But he started crying. I wanted to as well, but couldn't do it in front of him.
The waves became bigger and bigger and kept hitting our boat harder everytime. Some people started pushing one to another out of the boat, probably because they panicked. That's when this man came closer and grabbed Ibrahim out of my arms. I felt as if he had ripped off my heart.
I yelled his name and he did yell mine as well. I ran after him, eventhough there was so many people in between, and tried to make my way through them to get to him, but in that very moment the boat started drifting and around 150 people felt off the boat. The man who took Ibrahim away from me did fall as well, taking the kid into the water. I called his name.
He called my name. He was tremoling in the water. He didn't know to swim. The worst part is I didn't either. I ran fast to the side of the boat to try to help him hop back into the boat but I couldn't. Now he was too far away.
So many people screaming to get some help for those in the water and, at the same time, other many people trying to handle the boat so it didn't drift. I just couldn't let him go. I needed to help him: he was a kid and his life was as important to me as mine own. I found some ropes so I tied them on one side of the boat and threw them into the water so he could grab them, but when I looked up he was gone.
It couldn't be true. I called his name as loud as I could, but no response. All of them had drowned.
The boat continued to its destination, getting closer to Italy, I assumed, and I couldn't think of anything else. Couln't manage not to cry. I cried for Ibrahim, for my life, I cried for my mother, for missing my brothers, and cried for knowing no more about my family. In that very moment another boat showed up close to ours, and I saw planes flying above us.
Some people dressing on orange came to us, that's when I fainted. I heard them speaking a foreign language and they took me in their arms and then everything turned dark. When I woke up, I was sleeping dressed on white. I assume I was in a hospital, and some doctors were sorrounding me.
I tried to speak English with them, I didn't know where I was.
"Excuse me, could you tell me where I am?
A man, a doctor, responded: "You are in Italy, sweetheart".
Two policeman came to me and started asking about what had happenned in the boat. I tried to be as honest as I could.
Two days after staying at this hospital and all the medical tests i went through (I even had an the idea that I was this lab rat in experimental use) they took me to the therapist so I could get relieved by talking about my own life. That might help. I didn't want to talk about my life really, because I hate it.
This therapist's name was Laura. She's a beautiful 35 year-old woman. I felt so comfortable talking to her, but I was afraid she wouldn't understand what I had gone through. After all, I ended up telling my story. I was studying a proffessional grade on pharmacy assistance. I had good grades since I used to study so much. As to my brothers, one of them used to study Science in Architecture and the other one was a medicine doctor.
Our lives were not really affected by the war at first, but then something changed everything completely: one of my brothers was arrested because he was thought to be helping the terrorists, as they used to call the Free Sirian Army. He was tortured on electricty. They used all possible ways to make him suffer, and a week later they let him go. We had to pay 1000 dollars to get him freed .
After that, my brothers happenned to join the Free Sirian Army for what they had done to my brother and for having no freedom to protest. I started to join some protests with friends. Why? We were trying to ask for freedom of speech and the right to express our own will, among other things.
At first they launched bombs above us while we were demanding for our rights, they even took some people that are currently missing. Then everything got even worse: they started firing at us in the streets, and launching missiles with the strenght to destroy mountains. All this because we were asking for freedom.
I saw my friends dying in front of me while I was bleeding. I could save my life but couldn't save my friends. Sometimes we would wake up just hearing a missile that had blown up a whole building full of people. But that was not everything.
One day they came into my house and tried to rape my mother in front of my dad and me. They stole and messed all our things. They even hit my father in front of us. And, while doing this, they would say: "So you want freedom? We will give you freedom!"
What means freedom to them? I was fifteen when all this happenned and the worst part was when one of them came to me and ripped my clothes off in front of my family, but my brothers jumped on him. They killed him in front of my eyes. His blood splashed at my face.
At this point, the therapist asked me to stop talking and started crying. She came closer and hugged me, she also said that from now on everything would be ok. I really wanted to believe her, but after everything I had seen, I couldn't.
But, you know what? Everything has been ok. Right now I have my pharmacy assistence diploma and am still living in Italy. The therapist hosted me eventually. Sometimes I do speak to my brothers. Everything's fine. They're still fighting the president. I'm not quite sure what's happenning in Siria in this moment, because apparently every one is fighting.
My father died while he was being tortured in prison and Laura, my therapist, has got pregnant and promised my she'd name the kid Ibrahim.
I offered myself volunteering in UNICEF to help people all over the world. I am still trying to find Ibrahim's family to help them. I'm very happy because I haven't given up, eventhough I've experienced terrible things. I want people to have the will to fight in their lives, even if their lives are going through living hell. They say you need to go through hell to get to heaven, and so that's what I am doing.
Meera M. Zarorr
Víctor Fernández Clares