In my city until the very last moments

By March 20, 2020 August 24th, 2020 Stories From Idlib

I don’t know where I got all this courage from… A harrowing bombardment, the regime forces were advancing, risks were going more imminent, but, despite knowing that I would be killed if the regime took control over the town, I was still determined to stay in my hometown Kafranbel. I stayed till the very last moment, but in the end, I left… People say that I am quite stubborn, maybe this is why I stayed to the very end!

I had the feeling that I wouldn’t be able to come back if I left. When my displacement was evidently happening, my mind started recalling in a flashback my whole life memories, I remembered every street, every corner, and every moment I lived in Kafranbel.

I had to leave the city abruptly, as the danger became imminent sincethe regime’s militants became quite close to the town. The blackness of that night curbed me from a last glimpse and farewell to the city that I love before escaping, not even my parent’s house where I lived and grew up. I wish I could do a final good-bye to the house and kiss its door for the last time. From that door, I went to my first school when I was a child. In front of that door, I waited for my friends to go play together. The door that I used to wait for my grandparents and relatives to knock…

My grandfather used to be a farmer, and so my father was. We had a farming land where they taught us the meaning of love and attachment to the land like all the countryside families. It was tragic that we also lost our land… I wish I could go back and kiss the earth of that land.

It was heart-wrenching to witness the exodus scene of the city’s families, the hardest I have ever seen in my life. It felt that the city is moaning the lose its families and sons.

All those memories have now gone with the wind…. all because of the criminal who is bombing, displacing its residents only to stay in power.

My city was a role model for the whole country in the civil and revolutionary movement. We resisted the Assad Regime, and fought against extremism, hoping to preserve freedom in the city and be able to gain our rights in our country. Unfortunately, everything is gone now, Kafranbel is gone!

Since I was a child, I was in love with cats. When most the city’s resident lef the town towards the Turkish borders, I noticed that the cats’ numbers started surgingm, but It turned out that they were the same, but they were all targeting the houses which has some residents like mine, trying to find some food. Since then, I started to go out and walk remote distances to fetch them some food and collect as much cats as I could in one place to ovver them the food I was able to collect. The cats’ number was a lot to recall all of them. Despite that, I tried to give them nicknames, and sit sometimes and talk to them 🙂 maybe they were able to understant what I was saying!

During the bombardment campaign back in Kafranbel, I used to distinguish- due to the intensified attacks with different weapons- between the kind of bombs, mortars or rockets that we were being hit by. The one that used to scare me the most was drones. While it was invisible for the sight, we were able to hear it clearly while flying over us. This weapon, in particular, makes you feel insecure and always at risk. It is like the sniper that snapshot your location and able to end your life in one shot at any moment. Both Assad and the Russian regime extensively utilized this weapon to terminate and kill anything moving… even If it was a harmless civilian!

I love photography. The camera became part of me driving me to film everything to show the world what is happening in my country. The brutality of the scenes I was filming used to take me down every once and a while, therefore, whenever I got overwhelmed from filming, I was running away to take pictures of our areas’s enchanting natural landscapes and share them on my Instagram page. This was my reaction to the bombing, trying to show the world that this beauty does not deserve all this grieve and mass annihilation…

Salah Ja’ar-Idlib