When I first saw his face, hope invaded my heart after years of despair. His irresistible smile invites me to his crazy little world. With a simple innocent look, he changed my life forever. I felt alive when his hand reached for me. I looked at my sister, “you’re like a grandfather to him now”, she said. I felt responsible once more for a life, but at that moment, nothing could have made me happier. I became an uncle for the first time or – as my sister jokes with me sometimes – a grandfather.
My sister and I share the same birthday, with a few years difference. We have always been very close, even though we did fight a lot.
Before he brightened my life with his smile, I had never imagined that a love so strong, so great, and so captivating could exist. He came into my life and changed everything.
As a gay man, I have always known that I can’t be a father, not in Syria anyway, but when I saw him for the first time, my heart burst with fatherly emotions.
A few months after that, my nephew started to suffer. He first had health problems when he was six months old. For months, we didn’t know what was wrong with him. We travelled around until we had a confirmed diagnosis. He has a rare disease; a syndrome, the doctors said. There are only three other documented cases like his in the whole world.
He is a bright clever boy, amazingly caring and loving, but he will still have to go through many treatment procedures. “What’s most important is to keep him away from heat”, the doctors said. The heat apparently will cause his skin condition to deteriorate, which will lead to serious pain and suffering.
Unable to obtain information about his condition, we have been following his doctor’s order. His health started to improve; he is finally able to walk, use his hands, and draw!!!
He is in Hama now. The city is under siege, without electricity, water, or fuel. It reaches 45 C in Syria these days. My four-year old nephew is subject to that heat. I can’t get in touch with my sister because the regime has isolated Hama completely.
I was only able to call my mother for 2 minutes today. She said they are all fine so far. However, my worries about my nephew paralyzed me. If the conditions in Hama remained to be the same, his health will deteriorate gradually.
The regime is still killing in Hama – yesterday they started assassinating doctors to increase fatalities. They are slowly killing my nephew, and killing me in the process. The only image that is in my mind now is of his smile when he calls my name and says: “You draw a cat, I draw a dog”.