Saturday, February 26, 2005


First I have to say that I was touched by all the feedback I have received on- and off-line, as a result of my latest entry. But indeed, some clarifications are in order here.

No, it’s not the security situation in itself that’s getting to me. But, this whole situation and its impact upon my family has forced me to reassess, or, to my be more precise, it has reminded me of my priorities in life.

Khawla’s father was imprisoned in 1980 on charges of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. He reportedly died under torture a year later, though no one but some of his released cellmate would confirm this report. Khawla’s mother was arrested at the time as well, but was released within weeks. For years, various security directorates have kept on harassing Khawla’s family, and in 1999 her eldest brother was accosted and spent 11 months in prison on unspecified charges.

So, you can now have some idea of the horrible impact my repeated “visits” to various security branches had had upon Khawla’s state of mind. In her desperate attempt to avoid the wait and the fear it brings, she insisted on a couple of occasions on going with me to the Political Security Headquarters, and I consented. She was treated politely as well. But that’s beside the point. The point is the kids were horrified The point is that she was trying to cope with her fears and the stressed she was under were tearing her apart right in front of my eyes.

But I’ll be damned if I let my lively vivacious life-embracing Khawla join the ranks of the living-dead that fill this City to the tip of Mount Qasayun, on account of some foolish messianic aspiration of mine.

On a different note, the thought of leaving is not meant as an abandonment of our projects at DarEmar and Tharwa. Thanks to the Internet, I can run these projects from wherever, as I have indeed done throughout those beautiful and fulfilling six months I recently spent in Washington DC. So for now, my primary concern is to make sure that our local team is trained and expanded and new modus operandi is reached, allowing for more input from the more experienced team members into the decision-making process.

As such, my departure will not really come as a concession and the little seed of change that has been planted will continue to be looked after and nourished.

So, and as a whole, this decision of mine, this turn around of events, is not really as bleak as it might at first. So, keep hope alive friends. And heresy.

Heretically yours,

A thought. I can be very brave, very foolish, or very cowardly in the face of my interrogators. But all this is meaningless. My interrogator’s orders are the only things of relevance here. If he is told to simply ask me certain questions and report my answers, he will do it. If he is told that I should be tortured, he will torture me, and it wouldn’t matter in the least to him how I took the torture, bravely, silently, miserably… Oh perhaps, a show of bravery and fortitude will impress him, but will impress him enough to change him? To make him a better man, to make him quit this lousy job, to make of him a rebel?

And will any of these possibilities really matter in light of what this ordeal is doing to me and my family?

In my daydreams before I met Khawla, there were occasions when I faced my interrogators and executioners with such a show of fortitude that I converted them into adherents of my cause, and times when I killed them all in a single thought, and times when I died gracefully and quietly and left them simply shattered.

But in my daydreams these days, I seldom dwell upon such themes. I find enough victory, glory and fulfillment in the simple thought of waking up peacefully, and having nothing to worry about in life but the mundane things of daily subsistence. God bless the meek indeed.

PS. To those who encouraged me to go to Beirut. Indeed, this is the option we are currently considering at this stage, though nothing has yet been finalized. We will not likely spend the year of 2005 in its entirety here in Damascus.