I wrote this story on the memorial of my beloved one, Maya Naser, a journalist who was martyred on 26/9/2012, but I didn’t then have the courage or the strength to share it.
Last seen: 26/9/2012 8:28 am
That’s what is written on his WhatsApp profile, but for me he was last seen at 24/9/2012 …
Maya Naser …
On that day he said to me, “I’ll tell you something, but please try to understand and don’t get mad.” This introduction made me paranoid – what could that something be!
“I’m all ears,” I said.
“I’m going to Aleppo next week,” said Maya.
I couldn’t say anything for a while… Aleppo was the main hot spot, where Islamists are in control, and where an Alawite, Christian, secular, or agnostic is not at all welcomed.
I murmured in a low voice, “Aleppo, Aleppo… Aleppo.”
I knew at that moment that I couldn’t beg him to stay. His duty as a journalist and a reporter couldn’t be compromised. A fast monologue ran through my head though. I can’t let him go. I should say something. He won’t listen to me whatever I say. If something bad happens to him I won’t forgive myself. But, his duty… I have to say something…
I gathered all of the strength that was left in my throat but all I could say was, “please don’t go,” with my sight fixed on the floor. I couldn’t look in his eyes but I felt I should continue to beg him not to go.
He asked, “Do you really want me to stay here?” Yes, of course I do. He didn’t wait for me to reply. He just smiled at me as if I was his daughter and said, “I promise I’ll be fine. Trust me.” With those green eyes staring into my eyes and his angel smile… I couldn’t not trust that smile.
I had another Idea to stop him, “Then take me with you to Aleppo, pleeeease.”
“No little girl, you stay here in Damascus and wait for me until I’m back,” said Maya.
Being his little girl I felt I had to swallow my fear and anger, and support him instead of bothering him with my worries.
“I don’t know when I will leave. They don’t tell us as to keep the trip secure. If you receive an empty message from me that means that I left,” said Maya.
I cried and cried but didn’t say a word. He wiped my tears and said to me, “I’ll tell you a secret. Once, a fortune teller told me that I’ll live until 43. That’s not so much but I’m only 33 now and you’ll need to learn how to deal with those hard next ten years.” His smile always led to my silence, though I knew that story was made up just to calm me down.
I stopped crying because he must be strong and so then must I.
I had the flu and didn’t want him to kiss me good bye because I didn’t want him to get sick, but he stole that kiss anyway.
It was the last …
I was afraid of Aleppo but I was to be betrayed by Damascus…
On 26/9/2012 we were supposed to meet and call a close friend of ours, but I received an earlier call. I was woken by my mobile ringing. His name was on the screen.
Maya: “Did you watch the news?”
Me: “No, what’s up?”
Maya: “There are two big explosions in Umayyad square”
Maya: “Baby, stay home today. We’re not going to meet. Please don’t go out, it’s crazy over here”
Me: “Here?! Where?”
Maya: “I’m covering the explosions”
Me: “Please take care.”
Maya: “I’m taking care Habibti. Now you hang up. I’ll call you in minutes. Bye”
He didn’t call me back…
Never again …
Now, I regularly check his WhatsApp and I see that sentence (Last seen 26/9/2012 8:28 am). His green eyes looking at me as if he was still alive…
He didn’t have enough time to go to Aleppo.
He didn’t have enough time to live our next hard ten years.
He didn’t have enough time to see Syria safe and secure.
He didn’t have enough time to buy that house, or wear those shirts I bought for him.
While I had all the time to recall every word he ever said to me; every time we went to that small pub in the old city. I had plenty of time to see myself losing him and losing the old me… Plenty of time to see my country burning and my dreams falling apart.
I had plenty of time to contemplate that nothing is deserving of death. Nothing worth losing Maya over. Neither a country nor a word. Life is the most sacred right we’ve been given. If I could be anything that I wanted, I would choose to be “Alive.” Really “alive.”
Featured Photo of Maya Nasser via Batool Zalkha