Sahar (not her real name) and I were best friends during our childhood and early teenage period. Back in the 70s and the 80s, my family used to spend the three months summer vacation (school break) between Irbid and Damascus. My father would join us later because he has one-month vacation only. It was easy to travel back and forth between these two cities because they are only 100 km apart. While in Damascus, Sahar and I would spend most of our playtime together. She was a tomboy who preferred to play out with me than playing with her dolls. Although, I had never seen her with one. Playing out was a thing before the internet and PlayStation era.
Sahar was my grandparents’ neighbor. Her family was very close to my grandparents. Because I was an out of town kid, the other kids in the neighborhood would sometimes tease me when we play in the street. Although, she is my age she would always be to my rescue. She was different from the other girls, no boy her age would dare to bully her.
Unfortunately, we stopped being best friends out of a sudden. When Sahar became 16, she like the rest of the most Syrian girls could not play outside her house let alone play with boys. Two years later, Sahar got married. The only time I remember seeing her after that was, I guess, in year 2000 after I came back from Malaysia and went to visit my relatives in Damascus. We exchanged awkward pleasantry and I knew she had two boys.
I am telling you about Sahar because like many Syrians she left her home. When my mother was in Damascus recently, she told me that Sahar was planning to leave Syria with her daughter. Her two sons had already left Syria. Last week, she left Damascus. Her destination was Europe. In the past couple of days, I was worried she might be one of the victims in the Austria truck incident or drawn in the Mediterranean Sea.
I never imagined that one of the Syrian refugees I see on the news could be someone I know personally. The horrible news and images of the Syrian refugees are devastating. I wonder what is next for these poor people.