He pulls out his phone while we are talking. He starts flipping through pictures on it. He stops at one. He shows it to me. It is a young man with his guitar.
“This is one of my best friends back home. He died during the revolution.”
He flips to the next picture. Also a young man.
“This is another good friend of mine. He was killed by a sniper who shot him in the head.”
And the line of photos continues.
He is calm. Obviously a marked man. But he is still here. Unlike many of his close friends and family members who lost their lives in the Libyan revolution. He has said goodbye to more than 20 relatives and friends during the past year and a half.
Jordan reminds her of the revolution in Libya. She was in Jordan during it. Her father sent her, her mother and her sister away for their own protection. For months and months without end she was sitting in Jordan, desperate for any news about her family and friends in Libya.
One day she received a phone call from Libya. She was told her father had been killed by the regime. She was stone cold inside. She didn’t have the heart to tell her mother that her husband had died and to her sister that she no longer had a father. So she kept it to herself. For a week she carried the heavy burden. Trying to gather the courage to tell her mother and sister.
Luckily a message came shortly after. From her father. He was still alive. The rumor about his death was spread by the regime to induce terror and fear.
She still remembers the deep feeling of despair and the overwhelming joy that followed. She shivers just by thinking about it.
Her phone rings. A Libyan number. From home. She picks it up. Half a minute passes and then she bursts out in tears. Her best friend back home was killed this morning. How can life go on? How can she still be here when he is not?
He doesn’t know where many of his friends are. Half of his university class is no longer present in classes. They are all gone. Disappeared. No one knows where they are. Or for how long they will be gone. Many have died. For those he can mourn. But the others – they are just missing. Taken by the Syrian regime for having an opinion. For being activists. He cannot mourn them. He has no answers to all the questions in his mind.
Her family told her not to come back. They told her to stay in Jordan. “Don’t come home”. Everyday she reads about the latest raids and attacks in Syria. Especially in Homs. That is where her family is. She lives in constant fear. Fear that the next victim will be someone she loves.
She doesn’t know what to do. She is frustrated. Almost done being strong. She considers just going home and wait to die. At least she will be with the people she loves. Because why continue the fight? Will anything ever change?
After having spent the last month doing a training course for a group of amazing young people from all over the Middle East and North Africa (and Singapore) I have heard so many stories from the revolutions. Met so many young wonderful people marked by them.
They have lived through so much already. And it is not over. At least not for all.
My own problems and worries are put into perspective. I know our lives cannot be compared. My fears and sorrows are as real as theirs. But still. I catch myself thinking that I should never complain about anything ever again.