Quotes, Selfportraits

I was a student, once

________ 2016-05-10 ________


I was a student, once.
I graduated from a prestigious university and shook hands with its founder when I received my diploma.
Now my hands grasp at others’ unwanted clothes.
I was a teacher, before.
I taught English to Syria’s brightest and used up the electricity marking books late into the night.
Now strangers speak to me slowly, like a baby, asking “Do”¦you”¦understand?”
I was a woman, long ago.
I wore make up, I went shopping with friends in Damascus.
I brushed my black hair before a dressing table mirror.
Now I wash with wet wipes.
& queue to use portable toilets filled hourly by thousands of ill and unwashed strangers.
I was a wife.
Ahmad brought me bracelets from the market on his way home from work.
He got grumpy when I woke him in the morning but smiled when he heard me singing.
He hugged our children,
And kissed me before he left, as he always does.
As he always did.
Now I tell my name to the English girl before me and shake my head when she asks for my husband’s.
She nods and tries to look understanding. But what can she understand?
This girl, barely more than a teenager,
Never having known war, never having loved, never having had to run from chaos to strife, never having lost?
What can she know?
But then I remember, and I forgive.
For I was her, once.


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