The Syrian Phoenix

Nibal Zeitouneh

The Syrian woman is not well, nor was she before the revolution. The most out of all that aggrieve her right was the social and religious authority represented by the ‘Sheikh’ however he is young, how then if he is the Grand Sheikh of all. That authority has already taken its legislation from the political authority in the country.

And so Yassmen Said:  ‘The Sheikh represent the president of the republic in our neighbourhood. Nobody can refuse any request to him, and if anybody dares on it, he will encounter uncertain fate. The irony is that a lot of women are educated and hold high rating certificates, seeing by his own eyes what is being issued by this institution represented by its Sheikhs, sons, and their mercenaries. They don’t believe or perhaps they get tired of not believing and maybe opens at them the doors of the abyss!

Yassmin was born from the underneath of ashes, just like the phoenix, she went out in order to complete her endeavours, as life doesn’t wait! … In order to get her children to the safe side, those who gave her power and perseverance ……

A Syrian woman, stayed for long time underneath the religious and the social authority that deprived her the sunshine and her humanity!

She got married while being a child, and was taken out of her school that she loved!  She was hardworking student and a dreamer for a nice future. Designedly, they hunted her dream on the childhood crossroad! What an irony is that!! Because she was beautiful, and she might bring on discomforts to her family ….

Yassmin, the Shamite says:

‘I was 14 years old when I started to write down my dreams on the threshold of the school that I have been deprived of early of the ninth grade. I dreamt of being a flight attendant, wishing to keep up with my dreams that drift me away to know far more than our Damascene neighbourhood. I dreamt of being a doctor who gets into the academic life worlds, there in Damascus, two steps away from our neighbourhood, that city which is full of life. However, religion says that I have to get marry! That’s what they said that to me!

Yassmin got married leaving her childhood reluctantly, and more dreams that she has imagined, to live in the family big house in which the ancestors live together with their children in a nearby room, under the authority of the old father and the bossy mother in law …

She says:

‘I lived there in the Arabic house in which a square has been specified to me, a big room within the big house. I dressed in black from head to toe. Our mission as women was to serve men. I thought to delay delivering children, but that was out of my hand .It was prohibited to refuse orders … and so I delivered a girl and a boy in that house…

A woman might move from one house to another, but the customs will follow her and it is not possible to get rid of it easily as long as it attributes its authority to another more powerful and more influential one. In that case, she is a child when they want to impose their rules on her, and the mother when they decide that to her!?

My husband decided to move to a new house .However, it was not possible for me to live alone in it and with my family. This is because I was young and needs a supervisor that was what they told me. Therefore, my husband’s old aunt came to share us our new house in the other neighbourhood. My husband died when I had delivered my third daughter. The period of ‘AlIdda’ (a period in which widowed woman has to keep away from people after the death of her husband) went on under practiced pressure and insults of everybody. After that period, everybody went away when I needed a family breadwinner. My parents wanted me to stay with them without my children, and my sisters in law were reluctant to bear any responsibility. All of them gave me up, and even women in the neighbourhood helped in firing me! I am beautiful as they said, and even if I put on burqa, they were concerned for their men because of me! What could I do then? And most often the little girls were always exposed to the harassment by the men and the youths of the neighbourhood. Everybody was underestimating me, I am the widow!!

I moved from that neighbourhood with children after the death of the aunt. I worked then as a supervisor in a nursery, working in the children’s care. I learnt sewing until the war ignited, then I worked in the charity organizations and associations for the refugee and the inflicted people.

The story didn’t stop here, but rather it was a new start for new discomforts of new type related to the fate of children and their education. They were the orphans who didn’t reach the level of other children .Hence, girls has to get marry to the first proposing fiancé, and the son has to work but not to go to school. The family that gave Yassmin up while ensuring living for her children, shows up again in order to design plans of the dead future ahead of time on the way of their mother!

Yassmin says:

I have had my children being educated, and that was another story, where everybody fought against me because of my son being enrolled in the seventh grade, they humiliated him that he used to go to school but not to work, as he was orphan. However, I challenged them in a lovely way that my son wasn’t willing to do harm to me. Therefore, he continued going to school and working after it until he got his academic degree …

The religious and the social factors played a destructive role in the life of Yassmin and her two daughters. The grand Sheikhs and the big damascene merchants were representing the stick that this family has been broken on, and more other families. Hence, her fate was under the threat of loss and slavery in the so-called ‘houses of marriage’. These were in reality a musty dungeons covered by the veil of religion, lineage, and reputation. Yassmin wasn’t but the conscious woman that has been mashed by life and who insisted to take out her family to light. .. ..

She says:

My oldest daughter went to the University and graduated from it, then got married under the pressure of her uncles to a guy who was inflicted by Down syndrome, knowing nothing about him except his belonging to a rich family, and his father was one of the big merchants in Damascus city. She lived with him in a separated house from his parents but his mother was taking him out early in the morning to her house, then returns him in the evening .She delivered two babies, to stay without a breadwinner alone with them. I was bringing her, together with neighbours, food and the home needs quite before my daughter intended to work as a teacher for children at home. As for the husband’s parents, especially his mother, they belong to a different entity rather than human beings.  The Engineer wife continued this way until she was inflicted by disease to return to her mother who entered her the hospital for treatment. With the increased difficulty the mother being away from her children, she succeeded finally to bring them back to their grandfathers’ house forcibly. They didn’t want them, their father’s situation was dramatically worsening, and his mother was the only person who can influence him. Up to now, we can’t see them so that they would practice pressure on us till we host them permanently. However, my daughter would like that but still she can’t afford for all expenses at a time their grandfather owns money, trade, and real estates!!

In the second experience of Yassmin marriage of her second daughter, she verifies of the reality of religion Sheikhs whom she know through the past situations and attitudes, to give them up … they are living a schizophrenic between the inner side and the outer side. What they impose on the simple people is not applicable on them and what they say is quite different from what they do. At their home, they are totally different from while being in front of the public who is being driven to its brink. Moreover.  How often was Yassmin manipulated by them?  Especially when she used to complain to the Grand Sheikh about the impoliteness and the harassment of his son that takes place in the neighbourhood, and the street. The widow, who was given up by everyone, and instead of solving her problem, he proposes on her marriage in an external Contact!!

She says:

My second girl got married at her fourteenth of age, under the pressure of her uncles as well, she is the orphan as they said, and she has to get marry to the first proposing fiancé. She got married to the son of the Grand Sheikh, where she lived with him in the big house of the family. Meanwhile, the husband was spending his days and nights in the dissolution houses, treating his wife cruelly, and he was infertile. His parents were authoritative … She came back to me divorced having psychological and physical impairment … What she has seen in the houses of religion was unbelievable, it was also prohibited on her to reveal it to the outside of the walls of the big prison … My daughter continued her study and graduated from the faculty of Sharia, then she started another department in the university..

My daughter says: My mother, we don’t need Sheikhs any more after today … I became pretty well knowing my religion and I will not be any more manipulated in the name of religion …!

And so, the youngest girl worked on uncovering the face of the inhuman and criminal Sheikhs, also uncovering her mother’s veil!

Here she is encountering the real experience of life armed with consciousness and will that she will not get rid of after today!

The son got married and established a family. The oldest daughter travelled after marrying by her will and away from the influences of the non-humanitarian milieu and morally this time, married to a young guy who he loves her and values her humanity, not criticizing her orphanage status!

This is one of hundreds, but rather thousands of stories that the Syrian woman lived and still living under the authority of a regime considering itself as secular one, and with which all the evil powers on this planet are aiding and abetting it !

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