Tag: Anan Tello

A barren tree in Damascus which appears to be burning from the inside
A barren tree in Damascus which appears to be burning from the inside
Photo: Unknown

Right over middle. Left over right. Right over left. Nine years of age, a little girl sat in my shadow, braiding her hair.

In the morning, she would stop by and pull the bobble off to show off her brown waves, but in the evening, to make her mom proud, she would gather the locks back and trap them in a tight braid. “Tidy hair, tidy mind,” her mom often said.

Eleven years of age, she would awake every morning to a fallen strand. The waves turned lank… and in my shadow today, the girl forever sleeps.

Are they mesmerized?

They take pictures and say it’s for the world to see. An olive tree burning on the inside. Mesmerizing.

But hasn’t the world seen the flames devour millions of my sisters along Syria’s coast, in its north, and in its south? Why open their eyes now when, for years, my roots have been feeding on diluted blood, my leaves have been inhaling toxic fumes, and my sunshine has been contaminated with radiation.

Are they mesmerized?

I burn for all the generations that won’t be born… for the life that will cease on this land. And I hold the whole world accountable.

They count the bombs, the fatalities, the casualties, the dollars, the wheat fields… and they speak of reconstruction – can they reconstruct the air? The water? The skies? The soil?

Can they reconstruct life?

They speak of cultural heritage, of the infrastructure, of the gas and the oil. They speak of the power,

of the roads, of livestock… but can this ever exist on a perished land?

Are they mesmerized?

They think the bombs were dropped on Syria alone. No. They’re in the skies… in the air… in their lungs, in their eyes… in all the coming generations. Have they thought to count the lives that won’t have a chance to live here… or anywhere else perhaps?

Are they mesmerized?

They won’t be when the waters rage and devour their homes… when the crops are scarce for all, when hearts are fickle, and when cities are walled.

They’re mesmerized now, but tomorrow, when they seek shelter, they’ll remember that I am shelter… they’ll come to realize there is no shelter when shelter is raging.

Are they mesmerized?

Has my picture made the frontpage? Has it gone viral? Has it won them ‘likes’ and ‘comments?’ Have they ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ it and written poetry and shed tears? Have they likened me to all the Syrians? To their society, to their hearts, to their land?

But have they thought of tomorrow?

Yes, a new day, and my picture is archived… but tomorrow is born of today, and today is born of yesterday.

They want power, oil, land… but have they forgotten it’s one land? If one garden withers, the next follows… and the next, and the next, and the next – until they live on a blazing ball.

I burn on the inside… and so does Mother. Are they mesmerized?

They set all my sisters on fire. They said, “Let it burn; it’s only Syria.” But those fumes travel in the air… into their lungs and into their eyes and into their bloodstream and into their hearts.

It’s not only Syria, it’s Earth… it’s their waters, its their skies.

All the chemicals dropped here will travel across the planet, and their children, like the Syrian girl who sleeps here, will lose their beautiful locks… and I hold the whole world accountable for this.

I burn on the inside… and so will all of them, but then it might be too late. Are they mesmerized?

They dropped their bombs in Syria, in Libya, in Tunisia, in Iraq, in Sudan, in Yemen… all for what? They say for the future generations… but will there be any riches and land left for them?

If anything, the future generations will curse them. Are they mesmerized?

Has Syria’s war been entertaining? Has it been the horn of plenty? Have they been profiting from all the destruction, displacement and death?

Let those idiots be mesmerized.

They wage wars over scarce resources, heedless their violence breeds nothing but further scarcity. Why not tend the land before it’s scorched? Why not look after trees before they’re ablaze, and then their fruit would be plentiful.

They wage wars on foreign land. Have they considered the carbon bootprint that shows no mercy to any land?

Let them be mesmerized.

Photo of Anan Tello
Photo: Susie Lawrence

Anan Tello is a Syrian journalist and playwright. She has an MA in Writing for Performance from the University of Leeds and is now doing a master’s in International Journalism at the same university. Her current creative practice focuses primarily on the Syrian cultural blend, the displacement experience, and attitudes towards the Syrian diaspora.



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