Cold Mountain

Translated by; Aishah Barazi

Long months of working together in disputes, reconciliation, anger, laughter, getting breaking news, exchanging invitations to our favorite traditional meals and promises of celebrations at Freedom Square. I don’t know neither his real name nor his facial features. I imagine him in the early twenties, kind and courteous, as fast as he gets angry, as he can smile too. He used to ask lots of questions till I had to beg him each time and say: “My son, stop nagging!”

For all that we had already known, it had nothing to deal with name of the martyr we received yesterday for a young man who was martyred under torture. Hassan AlAzhary, I don’t know him just like dozens others whose names pass by my fingers on the computer’s screen while documenting their death.

My young friend’s name is Cold Mountain. I chose that name for him as per his request. A name inspired by winter and mountains very different from his coastal city’s weather, Latakia. My young friend Cold disappeared. I am trying to match his characteristics with Hassan AlAzhary who died under torture. His obituary paper notice was printed without the title “martyr” and his funeral will be very traditional without a grand farewell that suits the freedom actions, incitement for uprising his hands had committed and what he worked for all the months of the revolution.

Cold was detained on the 13th of last April, I did not do anything for him not even documenting his detention. I have not asked about his real name. Cold had to die for me to realize the amount of death that overruns all through my body slowly and stealthily just like a poison. Everyday, part of my feelings for this life and the people who are alive is dying.

And what happens after documenting a name after another, sending an outcry after another? I work like a gravedigger who is used to bury the dead while yawning then exhibiting their obituaries to the international communities. Why is the international union very cautious to document all the crimes under his sight? Why do they care with all this organization and accuracy in documenting the moaning of victims then embalming them in numbers, testimonies and charts? Why do I have to listen over and over to a victim’s testimony telling me how he was treaded, torn, deformed and burnt, how they jumped over his head, pulled out his nails, flayed his skin or watched his flesh pieces falling out while they are whipping him? Then recording all of that as per the standard rules of “monitoring and documentation” and spreading this in the civilized world so that they feel sorry for us and pray for our salvation! For them to accredit our professionalism and offer more training for us. We are the mercenaries of freedom, in their perspective, we need more rules, we need to be ashamed of ourselves because we are not civilized enough, we are not as non-sectarian as we should, we don’t have good immunization against extremism and we cannot unite ourselves in one organized opposition. Damn us!

Oh Cold Mountain, we are the intruders for freedom when we bother them with the sound of your bones being squished.

I have not asked about Cold’s real name, date of detention or situation.. He passed by just like many others.. I thought that someday he will be released or he might not.. The gates of prisons are never closed, it opens for corpses most frequently. Cold was kind and sensitive, he hated the idea of falling into their hands, he prayed that he would be martyred with a bullet or a missile. In my homeland, quick death is a privilege. And when we set appointments when chatting over the internet to meet at Freedom Square, we know that we are talking nonsense because Cold won’t be there to invite me to that Falafel sandwich he promised me with. Instead we will bid him farewell and regret that we did not know his real name till we found it in the list of martyrs. We regret not knowing his facial features except to document his death under torture, we did not appropriately answer the flows of questions he used to ask. A young Syrian man like him in his 24th year, he had a lifetime to wonder and discover. This is what is said in the conventions and records of Human Rights and the United Nations’ principles. A lifetime, not a summarized experience of a detention cell, a hangman’s whip and an entire world insolently staring at us, Cold Mountain!

For your information, this is not an obituary, this is just a resumption of an unfinished conversation between us, but we are exchanging the roles this time, where I ask and ask, you’re interrupting me with incomplete answers yet I continue to ask till you stop me with much intolerance saying: “Stop Nagging!”

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