I left Syria, but I brought Damascus with me

I’m back in Bamberg, where winter is warm, the streets are clean, and the air is fresh. There is a great degree of noise pollution here, though, because Bamberg is an industrialized city that has not yet learned how to properly informatize itself. Most people here have not reached a point where they struggle to record text without being interrupted. In fact, they are not that interested in encoding their own content, despite the insane tax-money that goes to their free education. Once they start using their keyboards, they’d realize how severe noise pollution is in their city.

Only then, they’d learn to be more mobile and meaningful, yet fly less, drive less, and suspend all the hegemonic bells.

Noise pollution in Bamberg, nonetheless, only interrupts one thought chain to start a new one. There is nothing more rewarding than looking for a solution for a diagnosed problem. This gives people like me purpose, so I can write these words. I am not afraid of a German thought police coming after me. Yet, sometimes I worry I might cross some of the country’s over-regulatory redlines. I am poor. I can’t afford a lawyer or a council to secure the legality of what I write. I can barely ask for favors to have my texts edited by friends. Yet, I still write and post because I feel free and safe to do so, at least for a while.

This was not how I had felt in Syria before I left in 2015. There, I was buried alive, unsafe to write a single word. The country drowned in problems, giving path to countless potential solutions. Yet, the gate to that path was guarded by monsters. I was afraid of even touching my Arabic keyboard. The only way for me to write was to pick up another keyboard, and even then, I was still paranoid. I only felt some sense of safety after I’d finally gotten out. Part of me still fears Syrian persecution for writing these words, even when I’m far away.

Home is the scariest place on earth, for it can hunt you and crumble on your chest. Even when it’s intact, for it to last, it demands that you live less. Therefore, I’ve concluded that I must cut all my roots. Having drunk from the sewage of history, I fear that I’m already poisoned, yet, I counted my losses.

I’m now based in what’s left of the Reich, using a European language that I have adopted as my own. English is my language of choice. It is who I am, an English speaker, but not an Englishman. I write for Syria, Germany, and the whole world, yet, I refuse to identify with any part of it. Arabic is my mother tongue, yet, I cut it out of my head. I live between people dominated by a German tongue which my heart so far has refused to acknowledge. I can no longer carry my family’s Roman heritage, so I distort my own name – I break it in half (Rou/Mani) that it no longer makes sense. I refuse to identify with a canon, no matter how large or small. I neither accept to be European, nor do I accept to be Syrian; a citizen of the tiny place where Europe once began.

There’s so much pride Syrians take in being part of a civilization that has lived the longest; perhaps too long. They don’t mind that it has fed on people’s skulls, including their own. I am no longer a Syrian because I refuse to associate myself with the illusion of continuous history. I’m a bedouin now, with no identity or homeland. I choose to speak English with an accent, so deal with it. I qualify to be one of Theresa May’s “citzen[s] of nowhere”, because a citizen of somewhere is really a nobody. I want to be. In a world that is taken hostage by human canaries, I refuse not to be.

My name is Damascus, so Damascus Diary is my diary. There are no other authors on this WordPress website. I’m all you get here. I’m not the geographical location that you find on the map. That location is named after people just like me. When we live in Damascus, we make it Damascene. When we leave the land, we take the city with us wherever we go. I’m the smallest Damascene particle you’ll find, yet certainly not the only one. Here you’ll find my father, my mother, and Joud, the Jobar driver. I may have left Syria for good, but I still claim my capital. You’re another particle, just like me, Damascene or another form of existence. You and I are no less than Alexander of Alexandria. The places where we live are worthless if they’re not named after us.

We make up the whole world.

Our digitized words are history, because history is mostly made up of words. The only difference between the history we write today and the one our ancestors wrote in the past is that ours is produced in pixels and increasing resolutions. I’m just a human experience; a tiny pixel in our collective narrative. I’m here to link to your pixel, and everyone else’s. We write our history in ED, HD, Full HD and Ultra Full HD.

This is our new world order.

In theory, we all can write, take pictures and make film. Soon enough, 3D printing will add yet another dimension to our discourse. This is our microcast, which reflects our social and cultural globalization. Yet, somehow, the past still imposes on us with outdated ideological chessboards. It insists that we must choose between black and white, but we resist. We’re nightingales born in cages. Unlike canaries, we sing for nothing but freedom.

I’m not here to fight. I just want my oppressors to hear my freedom song.

Published by Rou Mani

Abdo Roumani holds a Licence of Letters in English literature from Damascus University.

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