We came from many countries, from the East and the West, gathered in Amman for a conflict transformation conference. We came to meet, to learn, to teach, to discover, to unite...
We met after so many changes in the Arab world...Arab Spring, as some like to call it. We met in the middle of the turmoil. In the middle of the total makeover. In the middle of madness. In the middle of change.
We met while people are unleashing the beast inside them in many places. We met while men are playing war and women and children paying the price on the short and long term. We met while democracy of numbers is killing democracy ethics.
But we met.
It was a break time, a sharing time, a discovering time, a peaceful time, until one late night...
We were out in the city, having non-alcoholic beer and watching a football match between Germany and Greece. Cheering for Germany to please Lucia, our German friend on the table, while she supported Greece "their country is in crisis, they need to cheer up a little”.
Few minutes later a half Jordanian half Palestinian girlfriend joined us with two other ladies. One, Syrian, with a lot of make-up and an unsuccessful plastic surgery but with a lovely smile, the other, Iraqi, younger, more corporate and reserved. Both blonds.
The game wasn’t over, but Germany was leading 3 to 1.The group wanted to stay a little more, I was tired. Lucia too. We were about to say good night and hail a cab, when the two newcomers suggested a lift, on their way back.
|"Sleeping Girl" by Roy Lichtenstein|
Amman is a busy city at night, and traffic made the trip longer. Lucia wanted to know more about the region, about the people, and she started asking questions. They started telling their stories...We were at the back, it was dark. We were ears, just ears...then we became ears and hearts...
Make-up was out, smiles too, replaced by sad whispers of despair...
The Iraqi fled her country few years ago, now lives and works in Jordan. Her homeland is too dangerous to live in. “People go out in the morning not knowing if they’ll get back alive”. Her Iraq is so close, yet too far... I couldn’t see her face, but I felt the tears in her voice. Then her silence...
The Syrian is married, and lives in Jordan. Her family is still trapped on the outskirts of Aleppo. She calls her mom everyday to hear some scary stories. She can’t go there, they can’t come here. Her mom tells her to forget about Syria, she longs to go. Crimes, mutilations, rape are her daily feed.
On the same morning her mom shared a nightmare with her: two bodies of neighbors floating in the local river... Her voice is sharp, loud, filled with anger and despair. Her only link to her country is telephone line. She lives through those invisible waves of sounds and words.
The night became heavier. The city lights blurred. I was in a strange city with three strange women. Two blond heads in front with no country, lost in a remote city, trying to look good and alive, dreaming of “going back”.
Two of many others, who asked for change, for democracy, who were everywhere. Two of many who were among the first to pay heavily the freedom they wanted. Two of many who discovered they were not welcome in the new Arab picture. Two of many who are scared to death for their security and their lives. Two of many who committed the crime of being women. Two of many afraid of rape.
I may become like them one day... I’m on the edge too.
We became three lost souls in a strange city in my head. Lucia was our visitor. Our tourist.
When we reached our hotel, I ran out of the car with a heavy heart. Lucia was in tears, hugging both ladies with empathy.
In the elevator we stood in silence. When it stopped on my floor, she just hugged me and said :”what a sad way to end a night!”
I smiled...thinking: “what a sad way to live a life”...