A night in Jaramana – Part 1

It was the twenty-fourth of October 2012, the last day I had spent in the solitary cell of the military police department. During my stay there, I thought I would never see daylight again, while my soul was sneaking out in the time out behind the ventilation spaces on the door of the solitary by the evening, walking in the dark, moist paths of the prison. I used to hear unclear voices coming from the right and the left, screams and moans, prays and adhans, songs and cries.

I dive into the polluted air of the prison, I see naked bodies throughout a narrow hole in the top of the door, loads of naked bodies piled next to one another, I smell the scent of the air coming through it to me stinging like chemical vapors. I run towards the cold air entering through the frames of windows touching the ground, and the frame of light drawn out of the edges of the door in the end of the narrow corridor. Before I passed that metal mass, plated with several layers of rusty metals, separating me from the other world, I used to wake up to knocking voices by a tapered metal tool on the door of my solitary cell, interrupting my imagination, and getting me back again to my body heated by the fever.

What I just mentioned is not what I want to talk about. It’s what happened 12 hours later that matters, when I arrived by evening to Jaramana on the east side of Damascus, where my sister’s house was, who immigrated to Iraq with her husband. I trimmed my beard that had been forcefully loose for 40 days. It was the first night in which I slept on a comfortable bed, though it wasn’t really any comfortable, but it felt like the most wonderful bed I have lied on my entire life, after 40 nights of sleeping on the edges of my tapered bones.

At 3 A.M. of the morning of the 25th of October, I woke up again over the sound of violent knocks on the door. I thought I was still in the solitary, I was wet by the cold sweat during my sleep, and I opened the door after one of the knockers on the other side of the door told me they were a group of the soldiers of the nation in a security patrol. One of them instantly surprised me with a fist punch that pushed me several meters back, I fell down due to my extreme loss of weight back then, blood came out of my lips and nose, and I couldn’t defend myself before them.

The house was broken into by four people wearing military uniform, one of whom was evidently older in age, huger in body, and had a white beard. He held a piece of cloth ignorantly thrown by the door of the kitchen of my house, he blindfolded my eyes, and then the four men took turns beating me up with their feet, hands, and the bottoms of their steel guns. I was being thrown from one to another just like you throw a rubber ball in baseball between the giant leather gloves, and on the pattern of the hits I wasn’t even feeling anymore, they pushed me down the stairs of the building, freefalling in show like moves as slippery things fall down, where the wall at the middle end of the stairs welcomed me. This was repeated over five floors all along the stairs, being kicked and hit, on the background setting of all sorts of swears, insults, and degrades of myself, my honor, my family, and my hometown village that was the main reason behind their outburst.

When I arrived at the main entrance of the building, I was completely exhausted, I didn’t have the power to catch my breath. I just wanted to sleep. I wanted to go back to the darkness of my dreams and their cold sweat.

I wasn’t the only one who got tired though. These four huge men got tired as well, I heard one of them calling on the driver of the car waiting for them at the other end of the street of my building in Rawda in Jaramana saying “Help us beating him, and god will reward you. This vile wretch has exhausted us.”

Mustafa Al Dabbas

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