Tuesday, 24 July 2012
We all have those moments, when no matter how long we plan or carefully put words together the result is not enough for what we intend to say.
Sometimes this is when someone is ill or has died and we struggle to let others know that we share their grief or anxiety and despair. often we have had similar experiences ourselves so it's natural to want and to be able to give comfort.
Today I am not only lost for words but also lost as to how to feel and respond to a situation.
Neveen is seventeen years old, one of five daughters of my ex's sister and brother in law.
She and her friends and family watch tv, movies, chat on the internet and listen to music.She has her own likes and dislikes of most things, as any teenager. She has her own views and opinions and mostly these are quite different from her parents views, also as any teenager.
Neveen reads a lot - poetry, fiction, whatever - and she also writes.
Perhaps this is why I feel an affinity with her which goes beyond the ordinary concern of a middle aged aunt. After all, I do class myself as a writer and as such should be able to use appropriate language in appropriate situations to convey appropriate meaning.
That's what writers do.
I am also a parent who has watched three of my own children and two step children go through the child to teenager to young adult troublesome years. So why am I now so useless at knowing what to say and how to say it ?
Because Neveen and her family and friends are in Syria.
As I wrote the news on my television tells me that fighter jets have bombed eastern areas of Syria's second city Aleppo and that there are 1.5 million people homeless in the country and more than 1,000 children have been murdered in the conflict.
In a report released yesterday on the 16 month uprising, the international charity War Child says young boys and girls are being deliberately targeted in Syria's war.
It calls it a "War on Childhood"
Not only is Neveen and her family in the centre of this dire situation, but they are also Palestinian - refugees from birth and forever second class citizens to the country they live in.
Last night I asked Neveen (on the internationally important Facebook) how everyone was and was she able to go out. She said no she wasn't, but her dad had been to work for the first time in 5 days. He is a doctor with a clinic in Damascus, but had stayed at home the past days as the family are so fearful of the gunfire and explosions.
I asked her how she was spending her days and if she is writing.
She said she has written something, in Arabic which she will try to translate into English for me. I am not surprised that the subject of her work is "war".
And here is where I run out of useful sentences ... ...
What can I do to help ? Nothing.
Should I send money ? They don't need it.
What do I talk about now ? The weather ?
I tell Neveen that I am looking forward to receiving her writing, in English, for this blog.
I tell her that she will be a famous writer soon.
She tells me that she may be if she stays alive.
Then she tells me that all of them are ok really. It's just that sometimes you lose hope.
Today Neveen says she is "fine and happy". No reason, she just decided to be strong and happy and today she will translate the poem.
My heart overflows with unwritten and unspoken words.
The last of the sunset lingers behind the hill glowing orange as the sky darkens.
Sitting beside your bed, I reach out and brush my fingertips onto the paper thin skin covering your cheek bone. I will you to respond to me, just a flicker of an eyelid or a ghost of smile. But you lie still and silent and a chill creeps into my soul.
My memory does a rewind to the day we climbed that hill, laughing and stumbling as we tugged at each others clothes, trying to make the other go slower. You reached the top first and stood there arms above your head, waving and smiling as I collapsed, breathless onto the ground beside you.
“Look, down there ! “
My eyes followed your pointing finger to the field below us where a small child held onto the string of a coloured kite. The kite swooped and swirled pulling the string taut then loose as the child struggled to stop it escaping.
We watched spellbound, willing the kite to stay aloft.
Then, in an instant, it was free of it’s tether. The string slipped effortlessly out of the child’s hand and we gasped together as the kite swirled off into the sky. Away and away on the wind while the child stood motionless, watching it float into the distance.
You inhale deeply, then exhale one last time. You are off, soaring into the air as I raise my hand to wave you on your way.