I’m writing in English so that everybody can read this and understand it well.
**Based on a real story I changed some parts due to privacy issues. Though the body part of it remained the same.
I came back to Jordan after a not-so long period of time staying in UAE. Staying in Jordan meant a lot to me. I liked the idea of sharing Jordanian’s sociable life and worries.
The first week passed so fast as guests and relatives approached to our house to welcome us back to Jordan. I noticed one of my favorite neighbor’s house had no lights in it. I wondered how she had moved to another town without telling me!
As Ramadan had already started my family and I were very busy with family gatherings as well as how Jordanian families were.
One morning I woke up early as I had to go to the ministry of education for some papers. I noticed some guys walking in and outside of my neighbor’s house with building instruments. I’m sure now that my neighbor decided to change the decorations of her house and moved to another one already so that she won’t get distracted by the mess that would go around. I was pleased for her and eager to see the results.
For a week, by each day passing I liked sitting in my balcony watching the beauty of the street surrounded by many houses with many trees around and the beauty of how hard the workers work in the new houses –as the number of houses are increasing in here . Well, this was the reason of the first day only and the reason I’ve convinced my Mum with. The real reason of that was that my attention was grabbed by those guys working in my neighbor’s house. and to be clearer, a boy of about 10 years old was one of those workers. I actually had never seen him lifting something heavy or even doing real work, he was just helping to those men working.
Music was almost heard by me and their shouts too. After some days I’ve recognized that they were Syrians.
I never noticed the boy playing or laughing or even smiling! It was really weird that he was calm with no emotions!
As I am curious about knowing more about people’s life , I wore my sports pants and a sweater to pretend exercising. I took a round around my house then I moved to my neighbors house where the kid is working. The kid was sitting in front of the house staring at something I didn’t know. I leaned towards him and smiled as he took a quick look at me. ‘You’re Egyptian ?’ I asked, as most of the workers in Jordan were Egyptians and not to let him know that I was stalking him. He rose his head ‘No, Syrian.. Refugee’. A silent minute was there as he went back to stare at that thing. One of the men noticed that I was standing beside the boy doing nothing. ‘Ramadan Kareem’ he said in a way to let me know that he saw me. ‘Ramadan Kareem to you too’ I said back with fading smile looking back at the kid. ‘He told me he is Syrian. are you too ?’ pointing with my head at the kid. ‘he’s my brother and yes we’re’ ’Ahh that’s nice and welcome to Jordan. Insha’Allah everything will get back to normal in Syria ‘
My attention got back to the kid as the guy went back to work. ’ what’s your name ?’ I asked him afraid he might let me down and not answer me. ’ Bassam ’ he answered without moving his head. Now, it became obvious to him that I’m actually stalking. To my luckiness, I glanced my neighbor’s car coming from the end of the street. I was relieved. ’ Yassmin!’ she shouted as she got out of the car. I started hearing the welcoming phrases coming out of her mouth as the hugs and all the kisses where there too.
After she was almost done I asked ’ new decorations for the house?’ with a well-faked smile on my face. ‘Yes! My husband finally said yes!’
‘I’m glad for you!’ I said as we rushed into her house to show me what she’s planning to do.
‘Hmmm … how did manage to find those professional workers ?’
‘They work to a company one of my friends knew. She recommended them to me.’
‘Good job ’ I said smiling towards a man. ‘Thank you’ he replied.
Days passed and I always had my fake exercising after Al’asr prayer. Bassam was 9 years old who has three more brothers working together in that house from Dar’a –the nearest town of Syria to Jordan ‘
Once I was in my room reading, I heard Bassam’s shouts. I rushed to my balcony to see Bassam and his brother ‘Mus’ab’ sitting in front of the house. I listened to them as I managed to hide myself behind the curtain.
‘I’m asking only for five JDs !’ that was Bassam’s voice.
‘Wait till the end of the month I said!’ that was his brother’s voice.
‘My feet started hurting! And it’s becoming red! All the time! Only 5!
This clearly showed me that Bassam needed new shoes. I noticed that he wasn’t wearing anything on his feet. Oh my god! The whole area is full of stones and pins on the ground! What if one of them got into his foot! I had to do something. Those five JDs he asked for actually meant nothing really important to me compared to him.
The next day, after Al-Fajr prayer, I managed to make ten JDs disappear from my wallet and suddenly appear under small stone where Bassam always sits and stare.
I watched them the whole day working, and wished that Bassam’s bare feet touches the money. And it did! My heart was lift with happiness as I saw him holding the money and looking at it. ’ Mus’ab! Ten JDs! Look !’ I heard Bassam shouting with happiness in his voice but unfortunately not his mouth and eyes.
He ran into the house, and it looked like an argument was going inside and I couldn’t hear! The only solution I had was my fake exercising. What I almost understood is that his brothers were telling him not to use them until two days pass so if someone had lost them he’d give it back.
I had this feeling of being in an Arabic movie or something. I never thought that this dramatic kind of scenes would be in real life! This kind of moments I only heard about in almost kids stories and Arabic movies!
The thirty days of Ramadan passed so fast as I kept on stalking Bassam. He was a really interesting kid with no emotions! He had beautiful light hazel eyes with faded wood brown hair that reflected on each other to show beautiful shade on his face. He had slim body though.
During these thirty days I tried to make him laugh or even smile but it was a failure. No wonder a refugee would certainly get those bad feelings. His brothers were almost satisfied with the Jordanian community and with me as well! During my fake exercising, I would greet them and they would greet me back. I succeed convincing them that I’m planning to make new decorations to my house too and that I’m thinking of studying the decorating course within university.
It was 3 days to Eid Al-fetr, the decorations of my neighbor’s house wasn’t done yet due to some problems had happened to the house while decorating. I have to confess that I was glad! I’d be spending more time stalking Bassam even after Eid.
Eid passed and Bassam and his brothers were back to work. It was 5 o’clock and the time was perfect to prepare them some refreshments including some fruits. I took the plate to the house they were in and gave it to Bassam so that he’d pass it to his brothers. I told him to come back as he gives them the plate.
‘So, are you happy that school is starting ? Jordanian kids are kind trust me. ’ I told him with a huge smile on my face sitting almost next to him.
‘I don’t need school’ He replied emotionlessly.
‘Does this mean you didn’t join one here ?’
‘Not even in syria.’ He replied as his brother Ra’d showed up. ‘Thanks a lot for the fruits. May God bless you’ Ra’d said smiling. ’ what is he telling you?’ Ra’d continued as I was already standing. ‘About school’ I replied.
‘Oh school. Not our thing. Haha ’ Ra’d said laughing.
‘what do you mean? You also didn’t go to school ?’
‘My dad decided to stop sending me to school when I was in the 7th grade to start working with him after my mother had passed away .’
‘and your brothers?’
‘well, Mus’ab stopped studying when he was in the 3rd grade, Muhammad is the only one who completed till grade nine and Bassam didn’t join school at all’
‘And how is that possible for him to survive without learning anything?!’
‘I know letters and numbers, counting and reading are enough for me to do my work in the future and I’m sure I will love it!’
Oh god! This was the first time for me to hear Bassam saying such long sentence ! I was pleased and sad too!
How could a father stop his children attending school though it’s the most important thing in this century!
I didn’t respond to Bassam’s answer and asked him about his house in Syria. They used to live in a house with almost one room and a bathroom. They all slept in that room.
‘It’s all gone now’ Bassam ended.
‘Oh, Allah will give you better than that in Syria Insha’Allah’ I said as I felt like something is blocking my throat.
‘I saw how the devil Bashar had destroyed your lifes, may Allah punish him for that’ I completed.
‘You know nothing’ Said Bassam with blanked eyes.
‘What you see on TV is nothing’ Said Ra’d. He completed ’It’s awful in a way that one can’t describe. Our house was crushed on our heads. Two of my female cousins were dead with a baby child. We couldn’t get them out of the damaged blocks . We tried to dig to find them but Bashar’s men were chasing us with guns. We ran to Jordan with nothing in the hand. After they accepted us to stay in Jordan My father searched for his friend in Jordan. I believe that we were blessed by Allah. The other refugees as you know are in the refugee camps in horrible situation. We are unwanted by every country though it’s not by our will. That’s why I try to speak Jordanian all the time so no one would know that I’m Syrian.’
I looked at Bassam and found him looking at his brother with sad eyes. This was the first thing had brought him emotions since I first saw his face! I can never forget his face that moment!
My eyed started tearing up. I tried to hide them so Ra’d won’t notice but he was looking at the other side anyways. A look of shame and sadness was on his face.
‘I will praise Allah whenever I pray to have mercy on Syrians. This is a test from Allah and you all are winning Al-Fardous Insha’Allah’ That’s what I came up with after having hard time trying to get the big stone blocking my throat.
I took a little run around the town trying not to get tears out of my eyes. Those tears were biting my cheeks in an awful way. How can someone be tough! Where are their hearts if they don’t have minds! Those refugees don’t really need food as how they actually need their own country, as how they want to be safe and not feel unwanted by everyone!
This was how my grandfather and grandmother felt when they left Palestine and how I feel when original Jordanians ask me if I was pure Jordanian or not!
That day wasn’t the day that got me to my greatest anger. That day was nothing.
Some days passed and I couldn’t fake exercising anymore! Whenever I look at that house I remember Bassam’s sad face. And my eyes start hurting after my heart.
Couple of days ago, private schools mentioned to students to attend school to get their uniform and books. My both young brothers were new to join school and they were excited to get their new school stuff. They woke up very early and dressed well to meet their teachers and get their books. I waved for them as they got into the car but wasn’t looking at them. I was actually looking at my neighbor’s house where Bassam’s brothers were preparing some wood for the decorations of the house and I was certainly willing to have a chance to see Bassam but I didn’t. My young brothers had already left. I looked for Bassam in the other houses as it was being built already. I thought he might be helping others or something but he wasn’t there.
I gave up looking for him and went to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. The window of the kitchen had the view of a large empty farm that my Father bought for future use. A kid was jumping through the short trees. It was Bassam! “Thanks be to God I saw him!” He was playing. I loved the scene of him playing though he was alone. At least he’s trying to enjoy! He turned his head towards the direction of my neighbor’s house. It looked like someone had called him. He ran.
After sometime I told his brother if Bassam could come to my house to help me with the garbage. His brother accepted of course. I didn’t want him to help me at all! I just wanted to give him some fruits my father just bought. I used that trick because Bassam and his brothers would never accept anyone to give them anything of any kind with no reasons.
By the time Bassam got into my house, my both brothers were back from the school with big plastics bags filled with books and uniforms. Out of happiness, they were shouting with all the stuff they saw in the school and all the games. Described how the classes were and how nice the teachers were . I stopped trying to catch up their word when I saw Bassam’s happy mouth and sad eyes. He tried to take a look at all the books and the uniforms. He was listening to my young brothers with happiness and looking at the books with sadness!
I managed to get my brothers inside the room and stared at Bassam. I saw tears in his eye!! I did! I put my hands on his shoulders and all the tears came out of my eyes. I felt my eyes full of tears that covered my whole face! My tears were running without stopping.
‘I wish they become one of the best students in Jordan’ Said Bassam in a weak voice. I also saw a smile on his face!
I never wanted him to know that I’m crying for him but my pulling and pushing of air out of my lungs were the hardest thing ever at the moment as that huge stone was blocking my throat again!
I couldn’t think of anything possible to say at the moment! I couldn’t reply!
‘I’ll come back to you later’ He said. I nodded.
I thought of how could this universe be tough on this innocent kid that wanted nothing but to play with his friends in peace! But to have no problems going around him!
I thought of how all those nations couldn’t stop such devil as Bashar!
I thought of how there are many other kids in the Refugee camps. And the pathetic situations they’re in.
Bassam is just a fortunate example of those who are unfortunate!
They just want their country back and nothing else.
While all the Arabian presidents are in a drunk situation claiming to be as if finding a solution for the Syrian war! And for all the wars !
I looked through the window and saw Bassam kicking a stone on the ground. He really looked sad. His brother suddenly appeared out of the house. a little conversation went between them. His brother’s hand were put on Bassam’s shoulders and shook them in a way that I thought he had told him to be stronger or something like this.
This is what had lately happened with Bassam and that’s what have actually made me cry for the first time of my life because for a person.
Bassam and others like him deserve such better life. Life that he’d feel safe in.
Bassam and Arabs are dreamers.
Our dreams are our rights.
*Could be continued.