I have been lucky to have the family I have; a loving mother, caring siblings, and, recently, beautiful nephews and nieces…
My father died when I started to learn about myself and the world. I was 18 when he died. Before that, we had had a great relationship. Maybe we would have had the “usual” father-son fights had he found out about my homosexuality. I will never know – maybe it was luck, who knows?
Going back in time, I think that everything about my bringing up could have turned me at any given moment into a psycho. On one hand, I was raised in a strict gulf country and was surrounded by religious, narrow-minded, racist people. On the other, both regimes, in Syria and in that gulf country, are the most oppressive in the Arab world. However, I turned out to be “OK” because of my parents.
Reading has always been my favorite hobby. My late father used to “smuggle” my books from and to Syria – some books were banned in Syria, others were banned in that gulf country, and many others were banned in both!!! He had always supported my choices of books, and never censored me.
Knowledge is power – I felt I was becoming stronger and more independent every year. That helped me later with my sexual identity – the way to accept my sexuality – in a country where homosexuality is illegal – was not a hard one.
Unluckily – maybe – I have vivid memories of every event in my life since I was four. My memories of my father are not different.
Being from Hama, my family suffered with the Syrian regime’s scrutiny each time we arrived in Syria, and each time we left. When I was 15, I was interrogated by mukhabarat (secret police) at the borders when we were entering Syria – they took me to a room, without an adult present, and started questioning me. Worried about what I might say, since those bastards have the annoying habit of twisting facts, my father kept shouting outside. One of the bastards who were interrogating me went out, shouted at my father, and slapped him on the face.
My father and I swallowed our humiliation. We talked about what happened briefly when we arrived home. My father knew I was able to judge that situation clearly. Any objection to that humiliating treatment could have endangered our lives. After that incident, we both learned to understand our “unspoken” words.
Over the next three years, my father had other annoying incidents with mukhabarat but they were not as humiliating as that one. I could still feel his resentment to the regime which he managed to keep to himself, but at that point, I was able to understand his “unspoken” words.
My father died in that gulf country. His wish was not to be buried in Syria. In 1993, passports for students who haven’t completed their military service were valid for only six months. Every six months, I had to go through the agony of renewing my passport, which usually takes two days. Sometimes, with exceptions for special circumstances, passport renewal could be done in one day.
Authorities didn’t deem attending my father’s funeral to be a good enough reason to have my passport renewed in one day. Instead, it took longer. My family already delayed the burial for three days and they had to bury him because of the regulations in that gulf country. I missed my father’s funeral because of Assad’s stupid regulations.
For 18 years, I have accepted his death and the fact that I missed his funeral, but I have never forgot what happened at that mukhabarat office’s door.
For 133 days, I have been feeling that Syrian people are slapping this regime on the face. For my delight, I have been participating with them. Every day since the revolution started, I have been looking at my father’s picture wishing he was here, and wishing that he is proud of me.