Nasiba Hilal: A Day in the Life of an Ordinary Woman

She hears successive knocks on the door, and sounds of screams from the stree. She has just finished her prayer, this woman in her seventies that was an ordinary woman all of her life… but that’s no longer the case since the revolution started. She hurries to open the door kneeling on the wall of her house, surprised by her neighbors’ daughter “Raghad”, that tall girl who participates in protests, saying to her: Hurry up aunt Om Ahmad, an arrest raid, they are attacking homes and arresting youth…

She closes the door behind her while thinking for a moment that she did not change her prayer clothes but she doesn’t care, trying to hurry on the stairs behind Raghad, and when setting her feet on the street she sees Om Bilal screaming for help. Heading towards a soldiers carriage where the youth were detained while saying: give them back, we will not let you take them.

A soldier pushes her away while saying: do not interfere, old woman.

But she pushes him back towards the carriage’s door, saying: give back our children!

The officer asks her while he follows her: what do you want, old woman?

But she holds the carriages door, saying: take me with them, these are my children… the soldier pushes her away trying to prevent her from boarding the carriage… but she clashes with him in a conflict of hands while saying: I want my children.

The soldiers pull her away from the carriage but she redirects to the carriage.

The officer stands in her way saying: don’t make me lay my hand on you, you are an old woman and it is none of your business.

She rebukes him as she says in heartburn: these are my children!

He replies: we all know that you have no kids, old woman..

She convulsed with anger, saying: I embraced and fed by hand each one of them.

He says: return to your house, old woman. We don’t want to hurt you..

She keeps quiet for a few moments while looking at him, finding that he has Syrian eyes. Similar to the features of young men in her alley.

She says: for the sake of your mother… Give me back my children..

She sees a sparkle in his eyes, but he firmly answers: bring the rest of the detainees and let’s go.

She changes her direction, with everyone thinking that has withdrawn from the battle. But she walks to the road towards the front of the carriage and sits facing it.

The soldier says: move away from the road, the carriage will run over you. But she did not reply!

She appears to all residents of the alley while sitting in glory on the asphalt with her prayers white bright scarf.

The officer heads to her while saying: stand up, old woman. We don’t want to hurt you. But she does not reply.

He approaches her and squats down: stand up, old woman. You are like my grandmother, go home… He sees tears in her eyes as she says: all the youth you arrested have mothers who love them just like your mother loves you… She came back to saying: for the sake of your mother, my son. Let them go…

He keeps quiet for a few moments and speaks in a dim voice: I’m a commanded servant, old woman. She then repeats with a dim voice: for the sake of your mother…

He says: I will only bring one and return him back to you and you will return home

She says: all of them with not a single one missing.

“Raghad” sees her sitting there from far away.

She drags the weeping women with her voice to saying: We are all Om Ahmad… we want the detainees…

The street gets thunderously filled with voices of women hovering around the carriage…

Raghad yells: Take us all with them!

Syrian Peaceful Movement


The original text is published by Rising for Freedom magazine.

Alkuperäisen kirjoituksen on julkaissut vuonna 2012 perustettu syyrialainen, poliittisesti riippumaton Freedomraise-lehti, jossa käsitellään poliittisia, kulttuurisia, yhteiskunnallisia ja taloudellisia aiheita. Julkaisu ilmestyy tällä hetkellä verkossa (Rising for Freedom).

Suomen PEN julkaisee Nasiba Hilalin tekstin syyrialaista kulttuuria Suomessa edistävän ja maahanmuuttajien ja kantaväestön välille yhteyksiä luovan Suomi-Syyria Ystävyysseuran avulla.

Johanna Sillanpää