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“The war is my childhood destroyed under the ruins and stored in a box”

 

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The diary of Myriam

16/03/2018: General House

Myriam Rawick, daughter of a lady who collaborates with the Blue Marists, grew up in Jabal al Saydé, a neighborhood in Aleppo that does not exist now.

She wrote an intimate diary, as many girls do, which she began in November 2011 and finished in December 2016, when she met the journalist Philippe Lobjois to whom she entrusted it to.

This is the review of Brother Carlos Huidobro, general secretary of the Marist Institute, of the book “The diary of Myriam,” published by Edelvives.

(In the picture: Myriam with her family and Brother Georges Sabe.)

_____________________

“The war is my childhood destroyed under the ruins and stored in a box ... In my case, all I have left of my childhood is a battered box.” This statement is the confession of a 13-year-old girl, Myriam Rawick, about her childhood lived between 2011 and 2017. Nothing touches the reader’s heart more than these affirmations said by a girl living in the city of Aleppo during a period that she should never have lived. It is the prospect of a war from the eyes of the little girl who could not understand why this was happening around her.

She has a sort of sensitivity that draws attention. She includes in her diary, perhaps in order to catch the moments that were gone and have already disappeared, the memory of the people who lived in her neighborhood: the baker, the ice cream man, the florist, the cafeteria, people with name and surname, whom she recalls for what they did, for their generosity, sympathy and kindness.

The expressed sensitivity reaches the description and recognition of perfumes, smells, colours, flavours of everything local, typical of the normal Aleppo and of the days lived in peace “the eyes were not the only guardians of my memories, and I could also trust my fingers, ears and nose,” her mother told her.

She does not experience war and destruction with her brain, but rather with the sensitivity of a girl who trembles, cries, feels pain in her stomach, takes refuge in her mother’s arms, runs to sleep with her, carrying her little sister Joëlle, suffers headaches, covers her ears.

Although her parents do not tell her everything, Myriam senses and knows everything. There is a desperate attempt to hold onto the memories of her childhood, trying to forget the present. “If I close my eyes,” she writes, “I can still smell milk and orange blossom.” Hence, the memory of a whole childhood is in that little box symbol of all that she wanted and experienced.

El Diario de MyriamHer family are Maronite Christians. She lives her religious feelings in a simple way, in the way in which she sees her family and her catechism groups live theirs: by thanking God, praying for the people she meets, doing religious services, helping others and participating in the centre of the Blue Marists with Brother Georges Sabe and her mother, who collaborated there.

Myriam learned how to distinguish the sounds of the bombs, the shrapnel and rifles, the sound of the planes, how to recognise missiles, how to run to escape the snipers and go through the checkpoints of the army and the rebels, taking refuge from the bombs with her neighbors or in the lower floors of the buildings. She admits that she “knows what war is” and concludes “but for me there was only fear, sadness and anguish, and memories of a previous life that I will never recover.”

The value of the battered box is priceless.

_____________
Br Carlos Alberto Huidobro
Secretary general

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