The Besieged Flower Seller

12 April 2016

Translated by: Lilah Khoja

(Duma, Rif Dimashq) Nour, a student of economics at the University of Damascus, used to sell flowers in order to cover his personal expenses. In 2011, he was 17 years old and just starting his studies. He was excited, with dreams of leaving Syria for another country to continue his studies.

Whether against the regime or not, no Syrian has been unchanged by the revolution, especially if it took place during one’s formative years. At the start of the uprising, Nour was convinced the end of the regime was to come soon and that Syrians would be able to begin the reconstruction of their society into a free and democratic one. And so, like many other Syrians, Nour put his personal goals on hold for the foreseeable future, no longer selling roses to finance his education. He joined the ranks of the non-violent movement, changing his life forever.

بائع-الورد1-940x768Day after day, the regime transformed the revolution into a war and took with it a generation of young men, either through compulsory military service or prompting them to join the armed opposition. Consequently, Nour had to hide and escape from place to place, all the while planning protests. The following year, the war transformed from simply suppressing the demonstrations to displacing people during military campaigns. Nour tried to flee the country but was unable to do so, as he was blacklisted by the government for his involvement in peaceful demonstrations and his rejection of the military service.

War intensified in Douma and Assad’s forces imposed a full siege on the city, starting on October 25, 2012. The siege was carried out in conjunction with aerial campaigns and a complete blockade. Nour, the flower seller, began smelling death at every turn, seeing missiles kill everyone in the buildings. The questions he began to ask were limited to weaponry and death: “Is that a ground-to-ground missile? Or a barrel bomb? Am I afraid of dying under the rubble?”

Because Nour no longer sold flowers, he found alternative means of employment; he learned photography. He learned this new skill in order to show the world what is happening in Douma. For the women, children, and the elderly who are faced with these tragedies daily. Nour practices this profession to this day.

Nour still has hope for salvation: he has kept his dreams and plans for the future alive despite the tragedies he has born witness to during the war. The last five years may have made his soul older than his age due to the worries. Living in besieged Douma for three years, he has no hope but to one day see his dreams renewed.

Reporting for this story was done in collaboration between SyriaUntold, Humans of Syria, and Radio Souriali.

This work is under a Creative Commons license. Attribution: Non commercial - ShareAlike 4.0. International license

Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad