There, Where the Good Syrians are!
On my way up I felt a very strange feeling. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but a feeling of peace and utter relief engulfed my whole entity. In fact, I felt as if I wasn’t at all an entity; more like a gust of wind. It reminded me of my dreams; when I was there, but not really there. Funny, but true!
In a few seconds that felt like hours (or was it hours that felt like seconds?) we finally got there. I wasn’t alone, of course. There were lots more! Some were children like me and some were women, but mostly young men. They were all smiling peacefully. I couldn’t make out their faces because it was extremely bright. They were smiling reassuringly, though. That, I was sure of!
We knew we were there when we got to a vast meadow. It was a sea of light green with lots of poppies. It looked like there was a new poppy blossoming every few seconds, as if by magic.
It was only when I saw my grandmother that I realised where I was. I was in heaven.
I must’ve died in my home in Lattakia when the soldiers started shooting at the protesters and bombarding our houses. It was really O.K. I was not the only little girl up here. I have heard that 160 children have been killed in Syria since the start of the revolution 6 months ago. There would be more, but they’d be fine too. It was really nice in heaven. I mean what was there not to like? Here you lived every second with good people. You couldn’t imagine how nice it is to live without any evil. To forget what cruelty means! To live in everlasting harmony.
Now that I think about it, even dying was not that bad. We had just gone to bed when we started hearing bombardment coming from the sea. As I was leaving the world I could hear my parents hurrying towards my room, but I was already gone. I only feel so sad for them. They must be broken-hearted. How I wish I could somehow tell them that I’m very happy up here. I wish I could tell them that my death was very quick and painless; when the shell hit my bed I had no time to even panic.
A few days after my arrival in heaven, an old man with warm dark eyes and a reassuring smile came to me and asked me how Syria was when I left it. He introduced himself as Saladin. I had heard and read his name on TV and in our history book. He was eager to know if Syria was doing O.K.; the last time he’d asked he was told it was struggling and belonged to the so-called Third World. He had been so hurt to hear that the beloved Syria, which used to be ahead of Europe, was now panting behind the rest of the world. “How could Syrians let that happen? Are they still like that?” he inquired with pain in his eyes.
Saladin was relieved to know that Syrians were shaking the dust off them. He was very proud to know that his descendants were at last fighting for their rights and dignity. I didn’t want to tell him that they were killed and tortured every day. I hated to spoil his euphoria by informing him that the best young Syrians were missing and may never be found again.
I was still thinking whether I should tell him that the price Syria was paying in return was so high when I caught his wise eye. He must have guessed what I was thinking because he took my hand and said, “There is something I think you should see”. On our way there I asked him why those bright red poppies were constantly popping like that. “Didn’t you know?” he said, “when a person is martyred, his or her blood seeps into the ground and a bright red poppy sprouts instead!”
We kept floating till the end of the vast, moisture meadow where a tall wall stood. He cupped his ear signalling for me to listen to the other side of the wall. There were cries of people burning in hell. At first I was scared but then I could single out an old man’s cries. He was begging, “Please stop! Stop, Bashar!! Stop the killing. Aaaaaah! For every life you take, for every hell you raise your father is cursed and burnt. I wish I never had you! Damn you!”
Saladin and I felt sorry for him like heaven residents usually do, but I couldn’t wish for him to be saved from the destiny he had brought onto himself. My people were suffering because of his bad choices. I’m sorry, Hafez, but you’ve made your hell; now lie in it.