The events depicted in this story are fictitious, although inspired by those that, according to the news I have watched an hour ago, occurred in Mabujah, a village in Syria to whose beauty I can attest firsthand, because it was one of the places in which I stayed during my visit to the country.
I had my recently turned three-year-old on my lap and was lulling her to sleep. After crying uncontrollably for hours, she had finally calmed down, unlike the people whose voices could be heard coming from the street. Another explosion made the house tremble, waking my little angel up and prompting her to start crying again. Hence, I resumed singing, while stroking her silky hair. At some point, she stopped crying, fixed her gaze on me and pressed my hand with hers. It was her way of asking me to keep her safe.
Most of the strikes took place at night. The blasts always made me jump out of bed to make sure my baby girl had come to no harm. It broke my heart to hear her cry. I am never going to forget the day she was born and how fragile she looked back then.
I tried whispering words of comfort into her ear in order to soothe her, but all my efforts were rendered moot. She could always detect the anguish in my voice. Soon, tears were streaming down my cheeks as well. After all the years I had worked at the iron factory, I might have picked up some skills to put on a brave front, but I was still the same sensitive soul I had always been.
It was my duty to allay her fears, and thus, I did my best to get a grip on myself. Then, I tuned my vocal chords and continued singing, in order to have my voice mask the shooting, the takbirs, and the screaming and pleading coming from outside. The pandemonium had decreased in intensity over the last few months however, for most of the people had either been killed in the consecutive massacres that had been carried out or had managed to flee the town.
I rocked my angel in my arms as if the world outside were at peace. “Hush, little baby, don’t say a word. Momma is going to kill a dove for you,” I crooned, right before hearing someone shout, “Prepare to die!”
I smiled, I couldn’t help it. It all seemed so staged, so terribly B-movie like. When did we start developing this insatiable bloodlust? We even mention killing when singing our children to sleep!
Suddenly, someone started banging loudly on the door. “They have found us,” I thought. I tried to keep my fears from showing, so as to avoid waking my angel, but she woke up anyways and started crying. Then, I heard someone shriek as if they were being stabbed to death.
I pressed my little girl tightly against my chest while holding her head with my hand. The banging continued. The furniture I had left blocking the door seemed like about to plummet to the ground. I caressed my angel’s forehead, hair and earlobes to appease her. That had always worked like a charm on her, from the day she was born. Finally, her little body stopped shaking and her breathing began to slow. She let her head fall in my arms and, with eerie placidity, closed her eyes. She had fallen asleep in my arms, like a little fairy.
I loved to watch her sleep. What an angelic face she had! And she was so quiet and peaceful … She didn’t even flinch when I put my hands around her neck and started squeezing. It was harder than expected, almost like—although entirely different to—bending an iron bar. It didn’t take but a second. I heard her neck snap and knew it was over. My little angel had always only truly belonged in Heaven.
The door was knocked down just moments later. “God is Great!” they hollered.
I knew they might butcher me, perhaps even flog me with thorny chains until breaking all the bones in my body, but I was ready for whatever might come, because I had made sure to spare her the pain of the end.
Written by Sara Alamaliya.