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Aleppo Days

These are murky and bitter days in Aleppo, days of endless exhaustion.  I can’t escape my situation. I grow increasingly tense and mad. As I think about how to escape, I have the constant sensation of hundreds of pulses all over my body.

We have consumed all manner of fear and horror, bite after bite. With every bite I feel a hundred years of my life has passed… Missiles fall, pitching a strange circus out of streets and blood.

We gather in the narrow corridor in our house to protect ourselves until the latest storm of insanity passes.

I repeat numerous phrases of encouragement to myself, but it’s no use.


People are talking to me. I try to listen and concentrate on their words, but they form nothing but an incomprehensible echo.

My pores shake my body as if it were made of straw. I clench my hands and cross my legs…The shaking subsides.

I close my eyes and feel the ground beneath me trembling.

I open my eyes… The trembling has subsided.

I don’t see it but I can I feel it coming… Madness has drawn near.


Perhaps I should distract myself by watching television. Thanks be to God, there is electricity today.

As I start watching, I train one eye on the window and the other on the television – there is no enjoyment or life in this.

A hair clip crashes to the ground. I try to hold myself together. I drag a chair twenty metres away from the television and try to tell myself that I’m safe.

I try and ignore what my own eyes see – I read the subtitles of the film I’m watching.  Then I look up and see a lizard hanging from the ceiling with its tongue outstretched.

I see my own scattered soul circulating me like black dust, pointing with its fingers at thousands of sounds and pulses.


I pity my own ridiculous appearance. My head is poking out like that of a turtle as I attempt to pick letters off a screen I can’t even see.  I drag myself to my room. Even there the walls are shaking.

I can no longer bear it.  I close all my social media accounts – Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype and even my phone itself.


I begin listening to Sufi music, dancing to even the strongest melody.

I swim in worlds I have conjured, worlds far removed from death.  On the islands and in deserts which I craft from its threads, I isolate and detach myself. I forget myself and my hopelessness in the midst of the war.

I live in my studio – not leaving it except to sleep.  I am finishing the small project necessary to complete my course at university. My project was to be on sexuality, on elation and love… But this world has snatched its purity and innocence from me.

My final project takes the form of a metal etching using different techniques.


Images: Lyana Darwish

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