I used to wake up at 7.30 everyday, eat breakfast with my mum and dad, and then set off to work. It was near my home, so I went there on foot. My neighbours were also on their way to work, or having morning coffee in front of their homes. I would say hello, and sometimes I would drink a hasty coffee with them.
Every day, I would arrive at my job at eight, work till five, then go to the institute to learn English for two hours, I used to love speaking the language. I returned to work from eight till ten, then went home to my family. We would eat dinner together, drink tea and talk about our day. I enjoyed sitting with my family. My father is especially fond of cracking jokes, which would make the evenings full of laughter and fun.
I remember one evening, I was so happy, I asked my parents if heaven will be better than this! It was truly wonderful.
The official holiday in Syria is on Friday. So every Thursday after work I used to join my cousins in a restaurant or stay up at home until two or three in the morning. There would be many people in the restaurants at that late hour, and the traffic never stopped, Aleppo is known as a city that never sleeps.
Sometimes I would go to my friends’ to watch the Aleppian “Al Etihad” football team on TV, or we would go to the international stadium to sit on some of the 75,000 seats, watch the game and cheer for our team. This was always a treat, because most of the time it was fully booked. Then afterwards, we would gather at my friends’ house to read a little bit of the Quran and play PlayStation.
Sometimes, we would go to Aleppo’s citadel, which was about 700m walk from our neighbourhood. I liked it a lot. The citadel is at the heart of the city, on top of a 40m high hill. Some describe Aleppo as a dish, and the citadel the cup on top. It must be the largest, most ancient citadel inside a city.
So many historical landmarks lie around the citadel – public baths that date back to the sixth century, or maybe further, and the longest covered market in the world. You could find everything you wished for there, in the perfume market, the cotton and soap market, the fabric market. Most of these industries used old, natural methods and wooden instruments.
Every time I visited the citadel and those markets, I truly felt like I was living in those ages. And as you walked towards them, you would see children on the way to school, adding some beauty to your morning.
The best view is when it rains. The ground shines like a mirror, reflecting everything around it. When I stand in front of the citadel, I think about its greatness, and how many important people lived inside those walls. I breathe the clear air and think about the wet ground reflecting Aleppo’s image as if it wants the sky to see it.