By Hayma el-Yousfi
This story might be similar to many other stories, however; it does not resemble any of them. It is enough for me to hear the name of a poet, meet a poet, or read a poem, or even to know about the creation of a love story under tough conditions in order that I get into nostalgia for that story. Someday, I travelled from Aleppo to Damascus to attend a ceremony in memorial of “Mahmoud Darwish”. I do not remember exactly, whether it was a break if I got bored of a long speech of one of the speakers that made me leave the hall to take a breath outside for a while. There I met him for the first time. He lit a cigarette and asked me “Do you believe in his death?”, I do not remember what my answer was. But I remember I said, “They are all talking about him and commemorating him now and he is laughing at us. By the way, the man in pink shirt, sitting beside you is lucky, but he talks a lot.”
He was a senior student of Arabic Literature. I was to start my junior year of engineering. I was lost between my scientific study and love for literature, which was the compass I needed to avoid many troubles. “Another step will be enough for me to believe that your eyes possess an exile and towns.” With this poem, he revealed his feelings towards me, even without uttering a single word of love. I am entirely overwhelmed by him despite the hundreds of kilometers that separate us. (Aghyad) taught me love, insanity, rebellion and writing. He taught me smoking, jealousy, yearning, and fear from absence. (Aghyad) has created the human being I am today. Because he was rebellious, stubborn, and free, a university lecturer deliberately impeded his graduation many times. Then he decided to quit and join the military service because he did not want to travel.
Like any other lovers that time, we dreamt of a home to engulf our love with a terrace full of basil, embarking on Damascus, and poetry books that he would present to me. He visited me in February 2010 in Aleppo, one week before Valentine Day because he won’t be able to change the date of his holiday. He looked different. He told me that he no longer can stand that humiliation. I tried to bear some of that with him. I whispered to him, “But I loved your brownish complexion.” I surprised him with my present. I collected all that I could of his poems and printed two copies of them. I chose a title for the poetry book and a cover picture. I presented him a small dream and a promise that I would wait until the shelves of libraries would be full of copies of his poetry books. The roads of Damascus and Aleppo, the many travel tickets between the two cities, and a sole picture that joined the two of us together in the cultural center in the Adawi on the day of his poetic evening, they all have documented our stolen kisses, my songs and his poems.
Because we were a “crazy couple”, who were obliged to stay apart all the time, we used to differ and argue a lot until we decide to end our relation after a tense phone call. Then we die of longing after several hours. We used to cry and get back to each other and say that we are stronger than all our differences. The disaster in that relationship was that he taught me to be rebellious. The far distance caused him the disease of jealousy that developed into doubts for everything. We had a serious difference that led to our separation. I lost my balance and personality. I indulged into misery and isolation. He did not stop one day to love me. He continued to confirm to me in every letter or phone call that I will be his. “Even if I marry all the men on earth, I will be back someday for him to die between my arms.” Today, when I ask myself why I was that tough with him that time, I do not find an answer. Perhaps it was my stubbornness and holding on to my opinion and hating to his jealousy!
The revolution erupted. I know previously that he is a revolutionary even before the eruption of the revolutions. He is a rebellious even before the spring has come. He is freer than any human being I have ever known. My worry about him was killing me. He won’t open fire! I know him. It is impossible for him to obey orders, or perhaps he is about to finish his service in the army. But they decided to keep him. He sent a letter to tell me that he no longer can stand the situation. Once, he was able to phone me to tell me that he is in Homs and that he is as I know him. He won’t change, but he is waiting for the “opportunity”. On May 30, 2013, he called, “I am over.” This is what he said. They were restricting his movement. They would take him to an unknown place in the morning. “Nothing has changed .. you will remain the soul. Don’t worry. Your worry hurts my heart.”
I did not sleep that night. I did not know how to act or what to do. In the morning of the next day, I received the last letter from him, “Do not call or send anything.” Absence has taken him. I did not spare any effort in an attempt to know something about him or to know his whereabouts or find some way to help him. In vain! In the end of 2013, I was able to know that he is held in Qaboun military prison and that his family is abroad. They do not want me to publish his story or case. I respected their will and decided to keep silent. I was worried that any step I may take may harm him. I became helpless. I couldn’t do anything except to try to get any news about him, which was nearly impossible. All my relatives know about (Aghyad), our strange story, his detention and poems and my inability and waiting. They know that I loved after him and know that his being “with me” is something different from all that is familiar in love stories and relationships. Every now and then, I used to ask about him with no new. I typed his name on the search engine in a desperate attempt to find any news about his release, or any news about the place of his detention. Even after our separation, he used to write to me something on my birthday, and so, it is impossible for me to pass this day without remembering him. On April 14, 2015, I typed his name and clicked the search button. I lost all my senses at that moment. I froze in front of a piece of news “he was martyred under torture”!
I don’t know how much time I kept crying in front of the piece of news without daring to open the link to read the full article. I hoped it was not him. Perhaps another person, carrying the same name. This thought helped me gather my strength and open the link. I verified the mother’s name, the birth date, and the place of detention. All the information was right. His smiling photo was center on the screen! I got out of the shock only by convincing myself that that was untrue. I talk with him every day. “If you haven’t believed in the death of Darwish after the entire world had mourned him with a huge funeral, how can I believe that you died?”
Poets do not die. Aghyad was a poet, whose talent was known to all those, who read his words. He left the script of his first poetry book with me. He made me guardian on his dream, as if he knew previously that something would happen. I am writing about him today in order to add another story for the stories of the martyrs. I do not believe his absence. I write about him as an insane lover to remind myself that I am the heroin of a love story that is not different from the novels. I was the sweetheart of a poet, not a sweetheart of a martyr. I write only to say that I will wait a while for his return. If he is late, I will look for a publisher for his poetry book and tell all about him to surprise him that he has become a very famous poet.
A Syrian semi monthly, independent, political, cultural, social, and economic magazine