|Jamal Mansour | Author||Canada|
Re: ‘Syria is ...’
I love Syria.
Apart from stating the obvious which countless millions of fellow Syrians and I feel; this, to me, represents more than a word sequence with a romanticized sentimental value.
For Syria, to me, is far more than its mere land area 185,800 km2. It is far more than the truncated Sykes-Picot creation, the geographical entity uneasily sandwiched between the Mediterranean and the Iraqi desert, and Turkey and the vast nothingness of Arabia. It is far more than a flag, a National Anthem, an Independence Day. It is far more than a few of the most ancient cities, or the apocryphal “cradle of civilization”.
Syria, to me, is the fluidity of childhood memories—memories of extended family, and of affection and human warmth. It is the memory of sitting on a grandparent’s lap eating chestnuts next to the stove in the winter, or enjoying the cool mountain breeze in one of its many idyllic paradise-like getaways in the summer.
My Syria is the memories of dodging school to go to a movie in a shady theater with friends, and the rote learning of hollow ideology-laden slogans in crowded schoolyards. It is the simple pleasures of aimless wandering around in crowded streets, or sipping a dodgy syrupy cup of tea in a leafy café.
My Syria is the unrequited innocent love-lorn poems written to a girl, and the feeling of betrayal by failed ideals or icons. It is the listless limp of hopes upon encountering the first failure at work, and the frustration of thoughts and ideas that are forever forbidden to leave one’s chest—for fear of rejection or outright condemnation by a stubbornly-entrenched tradition of conformity.
It is the mixed palate of sights, aromas, and tastes of the Syrian cuisine. It is the sensual waft of cardamom and laurel from the age-old spice markets, it is the undulating sounds of traditional music permeating the airwaves. It is the clattering of donkey carriages and the interminable honking of car horns in crooked narrow alleyways. It is the overpowering sense of immersion into the rich and colorful fabric of a life as ancient as history, and as young as the people who made—and continue to make—it happen. Everyday.
My Syria is friends, companions, and loved ones. It is the ocean of kindness, chaos, and contradiction that is the Syrians. We are a people well-versed in ambiguity; we say what we do not mean, we do what we do not want to do, we comply to what we cannot possibly fathom. For we are, much as our traditional old Damascene houses—interior paradises. We may be plain, unadorned, and unassuming on the outside; yet marvelously colorful and full of hidden treasures and nuances on our insides.
My Syria represents a commitment, a covenant, a creed by which I live, breathe, and aspire. It is a dynamic, constantly-evolving philosophy, a guiding principle and paradigm.
My Syria, is the Syrians—a vibrant, living, breathing concept. One that I love, and I teach my children to love—by respecting, working for, and striving to improve and develop.
My Syria is an idea worth living in and for, and worth dying in and for.
I will live for Her, so that She may live for me.
And for all.