A Syrian Refugee’s Story

Interdisciplinary Cooperation in Psychosocial Interventions

Rauda and Mahmood fled Syria in September 2015, making the journey all the way through Turkey, Greece, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria to finally arrive in Germany in December same year.

Rauda Taha Al-Taha was born in 1973 in Raqqa, Syria. She was leading the Taha Al-Taha Museum in Raqqa before the war started over there.

She worked as a researcher in the field of Prehistoric and Islamic History and the mutual influence between Prehistoric and Contemporary Art. Furthermore she published short stories in the magazine „Sot Al Rafiqa“ in Raqqa.

For her lyrical work she was awarded in 2000 by kuwaitian Poet, Human Rights Activist & Economist Dr. Souad M. Al Sabah.

She fled Syria with her familiy in September 2015. The following short stories were written by her and her husband during their escape route through Europe:

“Farewell from Grandfather”

That night, my father was confused about hiding his sad feelings. He told the kids that he was happy with their journey, trying to convince them of the beauty of the next moments, behind the future saying

I love you the size of the sea, and the size of the distances that will make a difference for us!!! The child drew the line of the journey and the grandfather listened. His eyes were not the one crying, but the heart. This is Shahrayar, listening to the stories of Shahrazad. Perhaps this was the last of the stories.

The child was begging for time to address his moments, “Beautiful moments that haven’t yet come, can you take a shortcut, before our hearts grow old? “

He also had in his hands what he was offering me as the last gift. It was a beautiful Quran and two books. Then he continued, “This Quran will protect your way, but the two books are one to write me in details and the other to write the new words that you’re learning in the new language”.

We woke up in the morning, but my father had woken up early, and he left the house to escape our goodbye. It was a dark morning. The sound of thunder and lightning increased my anxiety. (…)

In my bag I packed my present, my sorrows and the last stories, but the worry was too big to be packed with a bag. Many nights had gone by as if I had lived for ages, but not like tonight, this night a degradation from the last tragedy, and the last death. I was not afraid of death, but feared that my father would be separated. It is love, this beautiful worry.

I’m preparing for a trip, and the journey hasn’t started yet, and the more I put my foot on the road, the more I’m scared and afraid of disability and more tragedy. (…) approaching departure time, angry rain, for the first time in my life, I see rain of this violence, and within a few minutes the streets are drowning in a torrent rain. (…) I wrote my father: „We waited for you to come back! Dad, I don’t have the audacity to say farewell to you, neither can I hold back my tears, even the sky has wept for our fate, our first steps to a land that we don’t know whether or not to pray?“ but than it was time to go… (…)

Travel to me was a pleasure, and today is a dread. We Syrians have always ignored the geography of our country, and today we are learning the geography of the whole world!! We Syrians –  we are refugees – we are displaced, we are called loose mantle.

(…) Izmir, in all of you waiting for my fate, we Syrians, and a new dawn for the sea, magic that makes you love it, possible that a lover dies at the hands of his lover? What a crazy fate… (…)

We’ve got the bus the first steps on the road, the first statement my child, Fatma, has: “Amisht Talgedi” (I miss grandfather!“) it is only a moment since our separation, so how long is the separation? A terrible tension like wearing a heavy winter coat. (…) I tried to wash my worries, as I’m going to try to sink them into the sea, the ghost of the sea haunts my wet raindrops imagination. I want to write a novel that my father has always dreamed of, and I’ll write it one day, dad, I promise you!!

We got to the yard on time, and our 1,000-mile trip started, our rain-washed clothes almost dry out of the body temperature that’s looking for safety and stability. In these days of the year, in my country, my hometown of Raqqa, the migratory birds pass through our skies in search of warmth, I know them from their voice, which mixes with the silence of the night to add a beautiful tune that I used to hear every year as if it were a nostalgic symphony, and at this moment my journey starts with the melodies of that symphony, and with those birds as well, in the quest for warmth, humanity and safety… (…)

Will we meet those we love again, or are our last moments in life?

We mean the city of Izmir, its beautiful sea, which has become the graveyard of the Syrians, replacing death by missiles, bombs and explosives with drowning. Is death less painful than that death?

The bus continues its march, and the fog clears, the stars return to the lap of the sky, and the more dark the night becomes, the more the brightness of the stars increases, the more they are the stars of my country, and no more beautiful than them, each star tells a story…

The morning star always carried by my child Imar secrets that no one can reveal except her. She always carried her complaints, her longings to her grandfather…. (…)

Don’t be absent from my father’s eyes, the tears of her prisoner inside his eyes demand her freedom…. My mother’s heartbreak is a dress that I wear as a lifeline from the sea. My mother, forgive me, traveled without your knowledge…. I fall asleep dreaming my daughters don’t float on the sea, so it’s food for hungry fish and seagulls… The passengers of the bus are covered in their sleep, and I cover my dream of surviving the filth of fear, misery, and oppression (…),

And today I write, and my scraps are scattered over the coat of a little king of mine who sleeps in my arm, and who doesn’t know what to expect after the bus arrives…. The darkness of the city of Konya, that city of Turkey, fascinates me to write, this city as a woman who inflames jealousy without feeling…. Dad, I’ll write you a letter. If I’m lucky, my luck is tied to the height of the wave, and its condition, pray for me. I need your invitations. Wait for the light strings to come down. I want to see the details of things. I want to enjoy my journey, even if it’s the last pleasure. The passengers of the bus are asleep, and I am struggling with my concerns and my branch. I do not know how to say goodbye to my age, and to the age of my child, who only lived through war, or do I say people with a new future ?

Will the sun rise with life colours translated on paper with happy drawings hanging in their grandmother’s room, or will the sun of their childhood fall in the lap of the sea captive of the waves?

And the bus goes on and on and on, the brightness of the stars here is different from the brilliance of my country, maybe the night’s pan is stronger and it shines more.. The darkness of the night opens, and the blackness takes the gathering of its extremities, alone stays the morning star, the star of my father, carrying secrets and messages, carrying the stories of my child Imar, weaves it behind the glass of a window of the bus waving at her by her hand, carrying the details of the trip to convey to her grandfather. For the first time, I feel that black has countless degrees, the most beautiful when the horizon is colored by the dawn colors. This star has been with us since the beginning of the journey, and now it’s waving goodbye to other people on the other end of the Earth, keeping their secrets and lives….

روضة طه الطه