The cliché most often heard during times of war is the need to love in order to overcome hatred; that war has acted to strengthen the bond between two people. However, war also ends relationships in a myriad of ways.
Jibran al-ʿIsa currently resides in Germany. Originally from Latakia, he defected from the regime army and went into hiding before eventually fleeing.
Prior to the uprising, he was engaged to a young woman. However, being on the run from the regime made it difficult to meet up with her regularly. One of his friends, who was bringing him food and supplies regularly, also became the go-between for al-ʿIsa and his fiancée. One day, the deserter received shocking news: his friend and his fiancée had gotten married.
Al-Isa’s story is not unique: dozens of activists have been separated from their significant others due to their involvement in the uprising. Wa'el ash-Shami, a 25-year-old Damascus-based university student and activist, recounted such a story to SyriaUntold. “Two activists in Damascus, a young man and woman, were engaged. The young man was forced to leave to Eastern Ghuta in order to continue his media work with the local armed opposition. Because of this, he was no longer able to return to Damascus and the young woman could not go to Eastern Ghuta due to the living conditions and ongoing fighting. As a result, they had to separate.”
However, the most heart wrenching stories are those of partners killed, either a civilian hit by a stray bullet or by being recruited into the regime’s army or the opposition factions. This is the story of Wa'el Suleiman, who used to work as a teacher. Shortly after his engagement to a cousin in Banyas, he was drafted in the regime army for military service. As he was preparing for his wedding, Suleiman was killed during a short battle in 2013, six months after his engagement.
The current war has also forced separations such as what happened to citizen journalist Ahmed Agha. His house was raided by the Air Force Intelligence and he was detained in the notorious Military Intelligence ‘Palestine’ branch for a year. Throughout that year, the thought of the woman he was in love with sustained him, craving to meet her again. His friends were familiar with his beloved, as she was all he would talk about before the arrest.
Nevertheless, shortly after his release, Agha heard that she was engaged to another man, so he decided to leave Syria forever.
Many thousands of young men and women also left on their own, leaving their families in Syria or its neighboring countries. Nur al-Khury, a management university student, left Syria to seek political asylum in France in 2014. She had to leave her husband behind, and was planning on applying for reunification after she was granted permanent residency in France.
However, their separation led to irreconcilable differences, and she started another relationship. Notwithstanding that, Al-Khury waited for her husband to arrive in France before obtaining a divorce.
Quite on the contrary, English literature university student Nadia al-Jundi, who hails from Homs and is now a refugee in Germany, says that she does not believe that “the war is ending love stories. Usually there are other foundational issues in the relationship and the distance sheds light on them and exacerbates them.
"Sometimes, the relationships are actually strengthened as a result, since the distance reduces those daily quarrels that oftentimes spoil a relationship, and it allows for each to appreciate the other deeply. The problem with war, though, is that we are all faced with an unknown fate.”
[Main Image: “Love in the Time of War” - 27-7-2014 (Darayya Media Center)].