Working on collating human rights violations within Syria is not easy. The daily videos which arrive at the inbox and the feelings they induce are difficult to describe. Sometimes you learn to become immune to them or you ignore them, and at other times, you push yourself to watch them… and it is just horrific.
One day as I sat at my desk, someone in the office clicked on a video that had arrived. And although I did not see anything, I heard something else very clearly. It was the sound of a human… yet it was almost inhumane. It was worse than howling; beyond imagination or perception. It shook me to my core. And it made me write the below.
I don’t know whether this is poetry or prose. It just came tumbling out. But read it aloud with expression if you really want to feel it.
The Worst Sound
The worst sound isn’t the bombs. And it isn’t that second of silence in the aftermath when the world holds its breath… just for a second. When the sky opens its eyes after its invaders have left, too scared to see what lies beneath. When the earth trembles, preparing for the spades and shovels to hack through her, and lay more sweet cherubs which she will cover with her soil and hold tight to her bosom.
It’s what comes afterwards. An orchestra of sounds. Except it doesn’t build up. It bursts around the corner like a waterfall- an eye growing in horror, a moment of realisation, of identification, hands rushing to face, a heart overflowing…and then it
SLAMS in your face. Claws on your ears, and wrench as you might, it does not let go. Grabbing the air, the atmosphere around it, shaking it with screams, shouts, howls, like a heart thudding with anguish, throbbing with horror, a washing machine spinning and roaring, a war drum deafening and calling, and
Suffocation. Suffocated by tears. Suffocated by the smell of blood. By colours- not swirling or dizzying, but- blunt, vivid,overflowing. Breaking barriers of flesh and bone, slipping past, greeting concrete and tar and soil. Suffocated by hungry flies looking for a feast, by men rushing and racing, vehicles bursting into life;
struggling to bring back life.
Suffocated by reality, ever so cruel. I am that drop, from the waterfall, in the ocean, fighting the forces around me and sinking ever deeper. Yet I push and will, and fight and will, until I reach the surface and gasp, and breathe.
Survival is a daily battle.
Your sounds were once such music to my ears,
but O my land, listening to your sounds
has now become a
tale of survival.