I left Syria on 22 July 2012. The main reason was the search for security. It is the same reason everyone leaves Syria nowadays.
Before I left, there were moments when I felt I would never see Syria again. This motivated me to record the last scenes of my stay. The documentary I have been making simply records our journey – that of my wife Rima and me. We have spent roughly eleven months in Lebanon and 11 months so far here, near the Turkish city of Bursa. My journey outside Syria has encouraged me to focus on art. But at the same time, I wish it had never happened.
When I remember my life before the revolution, I often think of the period after my graduation when I lacked a job. At the time, it was difficult. But now I feel that period was the best in my life. I spent twelve hours every day with my friends hanging around in the old city, near the citadel.
There were many small details in our lives in Syria which we did not feel were important. Some time ago, I watched a video made by a foreign tourist, who recorded half an hour of life in Aleppo in 2006.
Now, I feel that video could be one of the most important documentaries about Aleppo. It documents daily events that formed a very normal part of our life. After the last few years, we notice all the details.
The only project we had at the time we left Syria was our marriage plans. When we moved to Beirut, it was the first time either of us had been outside Syria. Initially, we were attracted by the new city. But after a short time we realised that life there was taking its toll. We felt a desire to pay more attention to art.
Now we live in a place which gives us the opportunity to live our life properly. We live close to nature. This is a relief, given the difficult conditions we have been through. But my father always tells me that I should find a job in architecture. I did a BA in Architecture and then I completed one year of my Masters in restoration of historical buildings. I was not able to finish it because we had to leave.
I have contributed to this documentary through my paintings. I have also made a short animated video. Yasser told me a story about a small park near his house when he was a child. He used to go there with his only brother to play. One year ago, Yasser’s brother died after a bomb exploded. It was not possible to reach the usual graveyards. There was no option but to bury him in the same park where he used to play with Yasser when they were kids.
When I heard this story, I felt overwhelmed with sorrow. I could not even say one word. In the video I used photos and music to tell the story of the park that became a graveyard.
I am working on a documentary, but it will not be possible to go on if I do not have the chance to go to Syria. I need to visit my grandfather’s house and record all the handicrafts there. And I need to know about my grandfather’s childhood. His mother was forced to emigrate from Turkey to Syria during the time of the massacre of Armenians. War was the reason behind her moving from Turkey to Syria, and it is the same reason I have left Syria.
Images by Yasser Kassab and Rima Al-Hamod