A Love in the Middle East

No one would dream of living where they live.
Unless forced to.
His country
is a bulletin of war
coming from the borders,
originating within.
Hers,
a divided land,
stitched together by wars and treaties.
Proud countries.
Untamed.
Hysterically feared by the world.

He tells her: Write about our love, my love.
She promises she will.

They have their own way of coping with reality,
of preserving their love.
They pass by the respective daily checkpoints
each one knowing
that today one could be fake,
controlled by the wrong faction,
unfriendly with friendly fire.
Perhaps their last checkpoint.
They both refuse
political or religious discussions.
They dream big and endlessly.
So often together.

He tells her: Write about our love, my love.
She promises she will.

They talk about their jobs,
the daily insignificances.
It paints normality
where nothing is normal.
They dream big and endlessly.
So often together.

She knows
he is not safe.
He fears
she is nothing more than a target
to reach the headline news.

Extensively,
they both refuse
to follow the news.
He knows where she is at 11 am
She knew he was sleeping this morning.

He tells her: Write about our love, my love.
She promises she will.

He called her.
He went to the Capital this morning.
And no, he kept it to himself.
The checkpoints
the bombs
the demonstrations
He spared her all these thoughts
“I did not tell you, my love”, he says.
She knows the reasons why

He tells her: Write about our love, my love.
She just did.

Picture: artwork of Laila Shawa

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Looking for Hibah Ahmed from Aleppo

‘I was in a relationship with a girl from Aleppo University, where I was studying. But after the crisis started, I don’t know where she has gone.’
(You call it ´crisis´).

Do you still have contacts with someone in Aleppo?
‘Wallah (I swear): No. No one.’

University people, someone.. Relatives, friends.  Think..
‘I wish I had. But no one.’

When was the last time you heard from her?
‘After the events started in Aleppo.’
(the ‘events’ you say)

2012?
‘Must have been around middle of that year. Maybe.’

Did the two of you have any friend in common? Someone you can look up?
‘In Syria you mean? No, no one.’

Love stories cannot end this way
‘I know. But with war, everything is possible.. I was studying with her, in the same department’

But how could it be that you lost contact immediately? Did you look up for her in Facebook, Twitter? Do you have a picture of her? You can look at Google Images and see if you find her
‘Nothing of this. She hadn’t a Facebook account, I lost my phone with her photos.’

I want to help you. How can I?
‘Hahaha. I forgot her. Maybe she is dead. She was such a beautiful girl. Smart. She loved me so much. She was such a giving person. She was even lending me her car. She used to invite me to her home to have food. With her parents. She was everything to them. She was their only child.’

Do you remember the father’s name, his job?
‘I think it was Ahmed. But I never asked her the last name of her family.’

Will you make me a promise?
‘Promise.’

Will you look for her?
‘I am always looking for her. But I have found nothing. She is also the one who lost contact with me. I think she is dead now.’

Do not say it…Do you think so?
‘After all that has happened, no one will remain alive.’

Maybe she left Aleppo long time ago
‘Maybe.’

(After a silence of 20 minutes. Long, heavy minutes)

‘Do you believe I will find her?’
Never give up hope, I believe
‘It’s impossible.’

Do you feel she is dead?
‘Yes. If she is still alive, she would be looking for me too. Because she loved me so much.’

Maybe she is looking for you
‘She knew everything about me, after I arrived to Yemen. I gave her my Facebook account, gmail, my phone number. And I have never changed it.
She promised me she would open a Facebook account, but nothing.
Do you know what? I stopped so many efforts to get married. Because of her. My parents wonder why I am not married yet. I told them I am waiting for someone. But till when?’

Till when you are ready to move on. This is why you have to find her. If not her, her fate.
Is the university closed?
‘In Aleppo, yes.  The life has been closed, not only the university. I really feel so sad because I have mentioned this story. I know I made you sad with this. Sorry dear.
Her name is Hibah Ahmed, of the University of Aleppo – Faculty of Science, Biology Department.’

(you did not say Her name was)


The Broken Loves of War.
Love stories cannot end this way with wars getting in between.

I feel immensely naive, but I ask: Does anyone know of a beautiful girl named Hibah Ahmed who used to study at the University, in Aleppo, Faculty of Science, Biology Department, year 2011-2012?
If so, please tell her nothing has changed. She is still loved, more than ever and someone is waiting for her.

I love the whole world and I love you too

” My dear volunteers , my dear children . 
I am a grandmother from Heraklion, Crete.
I am 87 years old and I admire you for your daily efforts to help these people who are suffering , those young ones .
I send you my best wishes and hope that the Almighty God gives you strength to help the world .
I send you these  handmade woollen caps  I knitted with all my strength and soul, to keep the children warm , even if just for a little while , the suffering children.
I love the whole world and I love you too.
All my best wishes and much but much affection
Atalanti Giakoumaki Heraklion Crete , March 8, 2016 ”

Atalanti Giakoumaki has been sending her work to many agencies helping refugees, especially those dealing with children
She loves the whole world, even us, I am sure.
Let it sink in: she is 87 and helping with strength, love and soul.

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(news circulated via Enrico Sitta, Italian blogger)