Hope in Goodness… but… I want to be human!


Sunset in Palmyra… mourning the past day or a hope for another day?

I should do something… I need to do something… I want to do something! I kept saying in my mind and aloud after I read Five Hostages by Lawrence Wright in The New Yorker.

The story of five young Americans hostages– four of them were killed by ISIS– struck me to the core. Though I knew they were going to be killed, but I sobbed as their death was announced through the story. While crying and blowing my nose my mind scolded me in mean strange voices:

you are crying for those five Americans, what about the hundreds of thousands of Syrian who have died during this war, at least those Americans chose to go to Syria knowing the risk. Did the Syrian people choose the war?

but this is what impresses me more” I’d think. “It’s not their war, nor the Syrians are their people, but they chose to travel to Syria and help the people. They chose to be human.

And what I am doing here, I don’t have the courage to go and do the same. I’m far away weeping and feeling helpless. Is it possible that there are people who come to this world to sacrifice their lives for others? Was it their mission? Does that excuse me for being coward, thinking that probably I have another mission in life? So just calm down Diana and keep writing! I honestly don’t know anymore, but I feel I want to do something and I don’t know what.

Another thing hit me so hard is how much darkness has taken over light in that ancient land. Five years has passed since this war started and I’d still think that everything would soon go back to normal, how could I think that? I still hope! Or could it be that out of fear of the coming we block our minds? In The book of our lives, Alexander Hemon wrote about his experience during the ex Yugoslavian civil war: “The more we knew about it (the war), the less we wanted to know. The structure of our lives relied on the routine continuation of what we stubbornly perceived as normalcy.” I remember when I lived in Damascus; people wouldn’t send their children to school in a windy day. But now, if one road is under rocket shelling, students would take another road to go to their universities! It seems keeping the routine is the only way to enforce hope, to give the allusion that things are still normal or just to keep living!

An American photojournalist Matt Schrier, who was kidnapped by ISIS, escaped from his cell in Syria after seven months of captivity. He described how for months, the men were tortured sometimes by a twelve-year-old who beat them and shocked them with Tasers (The New Yorker, the Times). Just imagining that makes my bones shiver. How could a boy at this age be able to do such things? he should be still a baby! What a horrible things he had seen and lived? How could ISIS change him to a monster?




Those emerging facts still shock me every time, because I still can’t accept that the situation in Syria is that bad, that human being can be that evil. It’s not the fault of this innocent boy in becoming evil, it’s the fault of who opened the doors of hell on Syria, the fault of those who take their inner fight on the world, their Jihad should have been against their selves and the fault of everyone still carrying a weapon thinking he’s fighting for a cause.

Put your arms down whoever you are and give this land a break, let the lost souls rest in peace and the living ones have their lives back!

Land is love… faith is love… God is love… where is your love?

the new yorker

The five hostages, from left: Kayla Mueller, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, James Foley, and Theo Padnos.COURTESY FAMILIES (MUELLER, SOTLOFF, KASSIG); STEVEN SENNE / AP (FOLEY); THOMAS PRITZKAT (PADNOS)

James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, Kayla Muller and Theo Padnos… Thank you for inspiring hope in me, we say in Syria, if there is still one good person in the world then goodness is still there. You didn’t inspire normalcy hope in me but hope in goodness, in courage and determination. I want to do something… I still don’t know what but I’m sure it will be clear by just being human like you were.

Diana Atwani


Promises… Places… and a poem of hope

How many promises we make and how many we keep at the end? I wonder why we promise ourselves to do this or that, and when we can’t keep our promises, our best friend “guilt” starts eating in our stomachs. Where theses promises come from? Don’t they come from our wishes, from our souls? Could it be that we feel guilty because somehow we are embarrassed in front of our higher watching self, our loving observing eye, our soul?

Enough analyzing. I set this Blog and promised to write every week. It went well for sometime but here I’m now lamenting the broken promise! Now I promise to write whenever I want to share something, and hopefully it will be more often than the last few months. I’m posting without sending my text for proofreading, hope you bear my poor English, I just feel I want to post spontaneously!


Istanbul this morning, my cup of coffee with my friends the seagulls

Istanbul doesn’t stop to amaze me every day and every second. I still feel it was the perfect choice to live here. There is fullness in it and there is void at the same time. In its fullness I feel at home, it comforts my longing for Syria, for my family and to be embraced by my homeland. And in its void I find a space to be creative; to write, to paint, to translate, or even to decorate my apartment in which I took refuge lately recreating my lost home feeling.


My mom with my sisters having their morning coffee in Syria

Lately things get pretty heated up in my hometown. It troubled my heart. It brought back my guilt . My sisters and their children were living under the bombardment day and night. I am far away, safe and enjoying life. And another guilt would pop up: my hometown was safe for the last five years while other Syrian’s cities lived in hell, people there, lived in real terror, hunger and displacement. And there I am, worried and panicking as soon I heard a few bombs fell on my city! I’m torn out in my mind by my incurable guilt.

A dear friend who works for humanitarian groups told me recently my guilt is well-known; it’s called the survivor guilt. He said all you can do is hope and move forward. He sent me a poem written by the Bulgarian poet Kapka Kassabova, and this is what I want to share today.

One last thing before I leave you with those magical words: I want to thank my dear friend Rossella. During our WhatsApp chat yesterday evening, she told me: “you should keep writing, I’m a fan of you!” It seems I was waiting for this assurance, that someone will read my blog, or someone approves my writing, it’s a crazy mind game. But here I am, thank you Rossella.

There is a verb for when

The madness of a country

Turns against you


There is an epitaph

For being fed to crocodiles

Because they could

There is a sound for being

Unable to forget, yet humming

Small melodies of hope


I know someone who knows them

And translates them

For the world


When the world tires of listening

He wears them on his soul

Tattoos against silence

Diana Atwani