The Diary of a Syrian Survivo

by Suzan Monzer


It's a short story about growing up in and the having to leave Aleppo, Syria. And speaks to the heart of the Syrian refugee crisis.

Based on a true story.

8:00 a.m. Ahmed woke up. Ahmed's alarm woke him up. Ahmed's alarm was simple. It was just the little drops of crystal clear cold water falling from an open red tap into an empty thirsty metal bucket. From where I was sitting I could see how he wore his thick blue jacket, the only one he had, and how he went excitedly to wake Sara up so they could play with the other refugees in the camp.

9th December 2015, Wednesday

It was first day of the beautiful white snow of the torturous winter in Turkey. Baba had already left for work in town with his wooden brown caravan to sell handmade sweaters Mama made. I was staring at how Mama was wearing her long brown dress that had become pale brown because the colour had faded away; how her silky light brown hair was tied in a bun; how she sat at the table and started cutting everything in half because we couldn't afford more than what the United Nations gave. I had gotten used to sitting on the floors for hours doing nothing but remembering my life in Aleppo, where life was completely different, where people were different, where the surroundings were different, everything. Just everything...

13th March 2009, Wednesday

In Aleppo, you wake up hearing the person selling vegetables in the neighbourhood and calling people to buy "Wahed kilo bandore bi 25 lira". Or you could even wake up from the noise the wind makes by hitting the doors of the balcony, as if it has a hand that is knocking on the doors to wake you up. You can wake up from the noise your cousins make - your cousins who were always laughing. Waking up and seeing your family gathered together at one table makes you feel comfortable both physically and mentally. It's a routine of life. You wake up, wash your face, brush your teeth, have breakfast with the family, get dressed, kiss your mum's hand and your dad's forehead, leave the house, meet with your friends and walk with them to school.

Life has been always like that: the same routine of life until the day where all of our hearts were aging quicker than they should, where countless youth have been dying day after day and where life was acting selfish and keeping us all in a prison where we do not know the meaning of love anymore.

20th March 2011, Thursday

In Aleppo you could wake up... You could wake up hearing a man being tortured and screaming in agony. Or you could wake up from the sound of the bullets striking through your balcony door and breaking everything into tiny pieces. Or you could wake up hearing a mother of two children crying on her knees and screaming their names in the dark empty streets.

17th August 2013, Tuesday

  Waking up looking at the mess you're in; hearing people screaming, missiles every 20 minutes; not being able to hear the voices of the happy kids and their laughter. This was now our new routine of life: you wake up wash your face - if there is any water or electricity, or if you are lucky enough you could wash your face with freezing cold water. You kiss your dad and mum's hand hoping you will see them when you get back or hoping they'll get to see you. You go to school alone.

23rd September 2014,Tuesday

Life was like this until my dad's business was burned down. My dad: the walking corpse, financially over and mentally sick. Since that day my dad stopped thinking about work but started thinking about a way out of Aleppo to Turkey. My dad started thinking of how to cross that battlefield with his three children and wife. We packed small bags and kept all the necessities and waited for the day they would throw a missile into our neighbourhood.

2nd October 2014, Friday

It was the day we waited to use our small bags. We packed earlier and headed to the battlefield - the only crossing we had. It was midday and it was not only the weather but also the view that was horrifying. It was like a 100 meter race, a circuit placed between two tall buildings, and the two rivals were on opposite buildings holding big guns. The battlefield was filled with old dead bodies and rotten old food. It was time for me to leave the piece of my heart, Aleppo, and go as an asylum seeker to Turkey. It was time for me to run and leave all my memories behind without looking anywhere but to my destination, the end of this battlefield. While I was running, my neighbour got shot in the ankle and fell... I stopped I felt like this was all a dream. I paused and the world paused. A bullet passed by. I didn't know what I was feeling, what I should be feeling, but I moved on after my dad screamed my name and all the people who had reached the safe area were staring at me anxiously. I moved and started running as fast as I could. I reached the safe area looking at Layla struggling with her ankle. All I could think of was her. I was praying and hoping she'd die as soon as possible, instead of dying from the pain.

1st November 2014, Monday

After eight checkpoints and waiting for 14 hours in the bus, we've finally reached Turkey's borders. It was time for the farewell of my beloved country and for me to be officially labelled a Syrian refugee. Here I am sitting on the green mat inside the tent waiting for the day I can go back to my country.

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