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Bahrain: An Encounter with an Iraqi Girl in Syria

Bahraini blogger One in a Million (Ar) was in Syria recently, where she met an Iraqi girl, who gave her a lot of food for thought on the conditions of Iraqi refugees and the heartbreak the war on Iraq has brought them.

One in a Million
was visiting the shrine of Sayeda Zeinab, grand daughter of Prophet Mohammed and daughter of Imam Ali, in Damascus – a sacred shrine for Shia Muslims.

بين صلاة المغرب و العشاء، قررت أن أسترق النظر في أرجاء الحرم المطهر و أن أملأ عينيّ بالمشاهد حولي. فهنا رجل
طاعن في السن قد جلس ليقرأ الزيارة المفجعة و عيناه تسترسلان بالدموع طالباً رحمة ربه، و هناك نساء من شبه القارة
الهندية قد تحلقن حول مقرئ يتلو عليهن ما جرى على العقيلة في كربلاء.
أخذت نفساً عميقاً لأملأ رئتي بالهواء العليل الذي لا يهب إلا في مشاهد العصمة و الطهارة.
استدرت حولي لتسجل ذاكرتي جميع التفاصيل و لتسجل ذاكرتي أنني قد أديت صلاتي في ليلةٍ صيفيةٍ في إحدى أطهر بقاع الأرض.
و بينما أنا في هذه الحالة الوجدانية، فاجأتني طفلة صغيرة قد تكون ابنة سبع أو ثمان سنوات. حملقت في وجهي و بادرتني
بالسؤال على استحياء: ” إنتو من البحرين؟
“Between the Maghreb and Isha prayers, I decided to take a closer look at the sacred shrine and fill my eyes with the scene around me. I saw an elderly man reading the horrific ziyara, with his eyes welling with tears, as he prayed for forgiveness from Allah. There were also women from the Indian Sub-Continent, who surrounded a reader who related to them what happened to Zainab in Karbala. I took a deep breath to fill my lungs with the breeze which only flows in such environments of chastity and cleanliness. I turned around in order to register in my memory that I have performed my prayers on a calm night in one of the most chaste spots on Earth. While I was in this trance, I was surprised by a little girl, not older than eight years old. She looked at me and asked: ‘Are you from Bahrain?'” she writes.
سؤالها عادي جداً، بل أصبح سؤالها معتاداً بالنسبة لي في بلاد الشام.
أجبتها بالإيجاب و دار بيننا حديث مقتضب لأكتشف أن الفتاة عراقية أجبرت على العيش مع أهلها في سوريا هرباً من الحمام الدموي العراقي.
كم أهوى الشاعرية في اللهجة العراقية.
قررت أن أقوم بعدها لصلاة العشاء. جلست الصغيرة بجانبي و لا زالت تنظر إلي بنظراتٍ لم أعرف سرها. نظراتها مختلفة، اختلطت فيها البراءة و الحزن و معانٍ أخرى لم أكد أصل إليها.
سألت الصغيرة عن اسمها فأجابتني: “زينــب”.
زين أب.. زينب، في حرم السيدة زينب.
لم تفارقني الطفلة فدعوتها إلى الصلاة معي. صلاتي كانت قصراً، و أثار استغرابي أنها صلّت قصراً معي
“Her question was normal, in fact a very recurring question for us in the Levant. I answered her and we has a short conversation in which I discovered that she was from Iraq and was forced to live in Syria with her family, who have escaped the bloodbath in Iraq. How I love the poetic sound of the Iraqi accent. I decided afterwards to perform the Isha prayer while the girl continued to sit near me and gaze for a reason I didn't know. Her looks were different – fused with innocence, sadness and other meanings I couldn't delve deep into. I asked the girl for her name and she replied: ‘Zainab.’ Zain Ab.. Zainab at the Shrine of Lady Zainab. The girl wouldn't leave me so I invited her to pray with me. My prayer was Qasr (When travelling over long distances, one may shorten some prayers, a practice known as qasr) and I was surprised that she prayed Qasr too,” she explains.
بعد التسليم.. لمعت دمعة يتيمة في عينيها و دنت مني و همست في أذني: ” ما عدكم ثياب زيادة؟”
قالتها بصوتٍ خافت لم أكد أسمعه. لم ترد أن تبين لكل من هناك أنها بحاجة إلى ملابس. لم تكن تريد أن يسمعها الناس.
قالتها باستحياء عظيم و رأسها مطرق في الرخام الذي يزين أرضية الحرم.
قلت لها باستفهام و فضول: “ليش؟”
رفعت رأسها إلى السماء و في عينيها ألف نجمة و ألف دمعة.
قالت بصوتٍ كسير.. ” أبويه راح العراق من ست أشهر و لحين ما رجع”.
كادت أن تهرب دمعة حبيسة من عينها لكنها خنقتنها بين مقلتيها
“After our prayers, I noticed a tear in her eyes and she came close to me and whispered: ‘Do you have extra clothes?’ She said it in such a low tone that I found it difficult to hear her. She did not want to show everyone around us that she needed clothes. She did not want people to hear her. She said it with shyness, with her head bent down, looking at the marble flooring of the shrine. I curiously asked: ‘Why?’ She raised her head to the sky and in her eyes were a thousand stars and tears. In a broken voice, she said: ‘ My father went to Iraq six months ago and has not returned yet.’ A tear was about to escape from her eyes but she hid it.”
و عرفت حينها أنها ليست كغيرها من الأطفال هناك.
لم تكن تشحذ المال أو الملابس من غيرها بعلانية. لم تكن تتبع الزوار و تمد يد الحاجة لهم.
استغرقت وقتاً طويلاً حتى يخرج السؤال من بين شفتيها.
كم هو مرٌ الفقر، و كم هي صعبة الحاجة.
و كم هو قاسٍ هذا العالم الذي لا يُنصف الصغيرة زينب.
مسحت رأسها الصغير بسرعة و أنا أفكر في قرارة نفسي.. كيف سيرجع والدها؟ متى سيعود؟ بل هل سيعود أبداً؟
هناك ألف ألف زينب بيننا.. لكننا لا ندرك ذلك.
زينب ضاعت وسط الزحام و معها ضاعت آخر ذرات إيماني بهذا العالم.
“I realised then that she wasn't like other children. She wasn't begging for money or clothing in the open like others. She wasn't following the visitors to the shrine and extending her hands to them. It took her a very long time to ask. How bitter is poverty! And how difficult it is to be in need! And how miserable is this world which doesn't do justice to Zainab! I held her little head and thought to myself if her father will ever return? When will he return? How will be return? There were thousands of Zainabs between us but we didn't know that. Zainab is lost in this congestion and with her I have lost all faith in this world.”

10 comments

  • A touching story beautifully told. Thanks for sharing it with us Amira.

  • You are more than welcome Cradle. Thanks is also due to Bint Battuta for sharing the link with me.

  • Such a heart wrenching story, I sincerely hope that Zainab’s father is alive and is returning to his daughter soon.

    It’s extremely frustrating that we Arabs are doing so little for our fellow Iraqis

    Our thoughts are with them in this holy month

    Once again an excellent choice for translation

  • Thank you Yacoub for your comment. Again, the invite is open to email me posts from the region you would like to see translated and featured here.

  • raffat

    Every day I had to think a long time before I woke up about the sadness and the problem of being always victim is it curse or what and we still fighting each other for carrying another believe or religion, I was touched indeed and I wished this girl will soon come back home safe and full with hope to rebuild the new great free Iraq.

  • Thanks Raffat for your sentiments.

  • Ali

    It is indeed a touching story. Then again, how many Bahraini Zainabs are out there with the same situation? Poverty has no address though it’s expected in war zones. But here in Bahrain or any other ‘wealthy country’, what excuses does the governments have other than corruptions and suppression?

    Thank you for sharing the story with us!

  • Thanks Ali.

  • Thanks a lot Amira for taking time and translating my post. I really appreciate it.

    It is indeed sad to see poverty taking its toll on innocent people. Poverty, war, sectarianism, are just a few of many issues that continue to threaten the lives of people around us, including ourselves!

  • Thanks you One for writing the post. It was my pleasure to translate it.

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