Abulkhair, father of the good. Image courtesy of the Syrian Civil Defense in Eastern Ghouta
Like any civil war, this one has divided the population and even shattered families. I’ve had relatives fighting on both sides of the conflict. Sometimes you’ll hear about siblings fighting on opposite sides. After years of division, it’s started to feel a lot more like ‘us’ versus ‘them’ — but who the “us” and “them” are can change from day to day. That explains how rebels in Eastern Ghouta can bombard Damascus, which today houses the majority of those who have fled Eastern Ghouta. It also explains the kind of retaliation on part of Damascus that sometimes doesn’t take into consideration that these people are still family.
On August 12, my cousin’s son was killed in one of our airstrike in Saqba, another part of Damascus’s Eastern Ghouta. He was not a rebel or a terrorist. He was a medic who rushed to transport the injuries of a first airstrike only to be killed by the second. I looked through his pictures, struggling to recognize his face. I haven’t seen him in years, and the little boy I once knew had grown up into the quite handsome young man. He was one of those who refused to fight for either side. Instead, he chose to help the people. He was the one man who didn’t deserve to die, yet, with that kind of occupation, he was the man who was most likely to die. My little brother does the same thing on the other side, dealing with injuries of mortar attacks in Damascs. He told me he assumed the risks when he took the job, so I figured the same applied to my cousin’s son. I concluded that the pilot, flying too high in the sky, got wrong or late coordinates, and killed the young man by mistake. In this war one must separate what’s personal from what’s national.
Among friends and family, Sameer was known as Abulkhair, which means in Arabic father of the good. He was indeed.
In a voice message Sameer sent to his cousin Mousa:
Do you remember, Abu Mahmoud (Mousa), the times when we used to fill up the car’s tank and just ride?