Rains of Mortars

This post does not have any new information about the situation in Syria or war in general. It’s just another insight added to the thousands before it about war. Hopefully it can transfer what’s inside of the Syrians heads right now, or part of it, to somebody who is curious and willing to know. Somebody who has not witnessed war before, or somebody who did and looking for others who shared the same pain and concerns.

It is Monday today, November 18th 2013. The weather was crazy in Chicago, the wind was very fast, and some parts in Illinois had tornadoes. As I was checking my news feed on Facebook, I noticed that people from all over the world were posting pictures and videos of crazy storms they’ve had in their cities. Cities in USA like Chicago, NYC, and Boston. Also Europe, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia (where it never rains), and many others.

At the same time, it was also raining hard in Syria, but the rain was different. It was raining mortars. For those who don’t know what a mortar is, it’s a shell that can be launched using simple platforms that can be manufactured easily by any mechanic. It’s a very ugly war weapon (like all of them). When it explodes it releases a large amount of splinters everywhere around it, so even it if explodes 10 meters or 30 meters away from you, you might get hit with one or several splinters. The splinters spread around the shell extremely fast, and they are very hot that the burn it makes is much more painful than the cut it leaves in your body.

I don’t know how to describe the situation, my words can’t help me. Try to remember a time when you were walking in the street and suddenly it started raining really hard, the sound of rain drops hitting the streets and cars, the smell that spreads in the air. You might have started looking for a corner or something that has a ceiling to stand under it. You found another person next to you and started a conversation about the rain saying: “It’s really raining hard, isn’t it?” Such a simple statement, well now it became the same case for raining mortar in Syria. You might hide between two parked cars lying on the ground and find another person doing the same. “It’s raining again, isn’t it?”

In the last couple of days, several people that I knew by the name only, people who I’ve used to see in the library, college, or in the neighborhood where I live, have died because of fatal injuries caused by mortars. All of them were walking in the street bringing groceries back home, going to their school or work, one of them was a teacher at an elementary school. The mortar shell hit the school yard 7 minutes before the break starts when all the children would get outside classes. She was in the yard with another teacher and several splinters hit her body and she passed away in the hospital.

The new thing in the story is not the innocent civilians who died by mistake because of the war, it’s the mental situation people in these places have right now. The expectations of the parents when their sons and daughters are leaving the house, and the realization the civilians who are walking in the streets have right now. It might start raining anytime, there’s no previous alarm or sign, it could start in the next minute. What value for life do these people have anymore? You might be a 50 years old doctor that cured many patients, a college student who has 1 year left to finish their degree, a taxi driver, a child playing in the garden, you might be a thief or a criminal, and you’re walking in the street, when a mortar hits you and you die. How can you value life anymore? You won’t. You would do anything to keep you away from thinking about the past and the future, and just live in the moment, your white space.

Safety instructions against mortars have become common knowledge now in Syria just like flying safety instructions that you hear every time you take a flight to somewhere. As someone who’s living outside Syria right now, my expectations also changed as well. Every day I check the mortar rain highlights, yes highlights just like those for a soccer or a basketball game when it tells you who scored and how much and shows statistics about the performance of both teams. I check the highlights with my expectations of finding the name of my friends or family members in the list of civilian casualties. There’s a breath of relief I make every time I read the list and don’t find my friends’ names in it, may God forgive me for being so selfish. I read posts of people I don’t know talking about people who they knew that were injured or killed by mortar rain, and get few insights on the personalities of them and who they were when they were still alive. Of course these concerns of mine are absolutely nothing compared to what those in Syria are having right now.

May their souls rest in peace for all the Syrian martyrs who died today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

Raed

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