The choice of “what-would-you-be-later” I made long ago.
Lawyer. I studied law in Aleppo, got my diploma as a lawyer and was started. When the war in Syria started and everything went completely else. I have been living in the Netherlands, where my education completed hardly of any value. Now I’m 26 and I must again make the choice for my future. What do I want here? I have been told that law school is only possible if I can speak (and write) both Dutch and English at the highest level of management. I must then learn to speak Dutch, I like the King of the Netherlands. I’m not sure I really still want it. I speak now Kurdish, Arabic, English and Dutch together. My head is sometimes completely full. There is an other possibility.
Architect was always in second place, but it seems in the Netherlands a totally unnecessary appeal. All the houses are the same. You may perhaps only think of a different color roof. If I am called to ask where I am, I reply standard: “In the Netherlands”. Where in the Netherlands, I never know, because everything seems similar. That is probably the reason that everyone has a navigation system here. Friends say I should choose a profession with children. Children are happy with me, I like them. That’s true. In Syria it is a profession that men do not choose. The primary work is only for women. Does not matter to me, I think it is indeed what it is for me. When I later have children, I can tell you at least that their father, “the babysitter”, was a lawyer in an other life.
As a child I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to fight for rights and especially the rights of women. My father is a nice man, but I often had to cry like a child as he hit my mother. I thought it was unfair that men and women were not all. The mothers could not work around me. But they were always cleaning and cooking at home, even if they were very tired. When I went to college, my motivation was clear. I wanted to help not only women, but also children. The sadness that I myself had in my youth about the fate of my mother, I wanted to save other children. How different it is in the Netherlands. I see women as a bus driver, police officer or owner of a restaurant. When they come home, they are often there the boss. I met a Dutch family where the husband gave his wife money to go shopping. If you eat here with a woman, she pays her own part. I even married couples keep their finances separate. I understand nothing of it. You do share everything together when you are married? When I am waiting at the station, I always wonder the same thing: why is heard through the speaker ‘ladies and gentlemen’. Why not “men and women”? Women here are always number one. I’ve seen it, I have to use my training in the Netherlands to fight for the rights of the husband. Because of this equality is not so bad here. I will not rest until you are in the train and hear: ‘men and women’. Then we have guys at least that.
My vacation began last week actually to look a bit like a holiday. I was taken away by two Dutch friends to an outdoor swimming pool in Arnhem. I expected that we would go swimming there, chatting and people watching. I did eventually, but only. My friends had a book with him and sat reading all afternoon in the grass, like many other guests at the pool. In the beginning I thought that reading people are very busy, because they might soon have a key. It turns out that Dutch like to read just. I know people here who just before they visit the bookstore go on holiday to buy books and magazines for their holidays. A Dutch couple where I lived at home, even read in bed. In Syria, people watch only television. There are 24 hours in a day, but Syrians watch about 25 hours of TV per day. Dutch put the visitors come from the television. Syria would be an insult, if you want to go visit home. In the big city of Aleppo is perhaps one store where you can get some books. There is a library. The man who works there, it slaapverwekkendste job in the country. He probably heard all day cicadas, because there really is no one. Only if, for example receive a Minister to be in town, this is done in the library. That is good, lots of books and a large building. Then they talk there and they broadcast it on TV. And look Syrians then all together. they see the library once inside.
I had just started my integration course if I got vacation. I have weeks to tell now about my family in Aleppo. Now the city is surrounded by the Syrian army and food and drinking water are increasingly scarce, people do the craziest things. Men join to get rebel groups in the city because of the promise that they money or eat there. Widows with children offer their bodies at soldiers in exchange for food for their children. Shops are looted. My parents say that they still have supplies at home. I hope that’s true. My brother will be 27 in three months. That means, according to the new rules in Syria that, although he is studying, he should join the army. Soldiers now have just one week of training instead of one year. My brother is smart and sensitive, but not exactly Jackie Chan. If he goes in the army with one week experience he dies right away, I’m sure. He can not leave the country, because Turkey does not take refugees anymore. When connecting a group such as Free Army of the Kurds is useless, because he will have to fight immediately. Hiding in the house until the war is over is possible, but that is the worst option. We have several times to flee from our home for military groups marched through the neighborhood. Then our house was destroyed and we had to look for another house. If it happens again then my brother is still visible in public and taken. I would like him want to come across. He is a man, his life is worth as much as that of any other. In one of the nights I lay awake, I thought that I would say that I’m gay and that my friend (my brother) is still in Syria. A stupid idea that I’m going to run, but nights can now once last very long.
Youth in Syria
Now I know what freedom is in the Netherlands, I also know that I have never have known it in Syria. As a child I did not understand. I took everything as it came, as children do. My parents made me only speak Kurdish at home, nowhere else. I was not thinking about the reason, I just listened. Thanks for children who have property. It made my childhood quite well. You can not compare the youth of Dutch children with mine. My brother and I had no toys. I worked since I was eight. I helped with cleaning in a flower shop, later in a barber shop and then in a restaurant. My father often complimented me on my jobs. He said that we had a home thanks to me to live in. I do not know if that is really so, I think he said it mostly to make me proud. I thought it was fine, because I was very much out of the house. We lived in a very dark street with no sunlight and had to be all one bedroom. Street play was too dangerous, so a job offered required (safe) distraction. Only at the university I realized for the first time that the system in which I lived was called at least remarkable . I wanted to sign up for the party of Bashar al-Assad. Not because I wanted to, but because it is the only way into Syria to join. If you are applying, after the question of how hot and when you were born, whether you are in the ruling party. If not, you can forget about that job. I have repeatedly tried to register, but could not. I seemed to have a distant uncle who was a Kurdish party. A mortal sin, which spills over to the whole family. Freedom, it is a great thing.