FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Aleppo’s Tears

by

“Aleppo was a large and terrifying town,” wrote the American writer Frederic Prokosch in his famed novel “The Asiatics.” This has been never truer than now. I look at a photograph of a crying man, holding in his arms the bloodied body of his son, a child, among the rubble of Aleppo. The man is kneeling down, his left foot diverging from the right foot, giving additional pathos to an already disturbing image. The pain of the world is on the man’s shoulders.

As Aleppo continues to be the target of unrelenting aerial bombings, one can easily imagine the following scenario as narrated by a 10-year-old child.

“We were all huddled in a back room of our house. We had been asked to leave, since most of our neighbors had already left, but my Grandma yelled at what she thought were intruders, ‘How can I leave when my husband is unable to move!’ The men fighting outside our house left, perhaps realizing that they could win a battle but they would lose the war against my grandmother’s determination. Now, even if we wanted, we couldn’t leave.”

“I looked at my grandfather, sitting in his wheelchair, looking beyond into space not understanding what was going on. He made a signal to my sister and asked for milk. She just moved her head until my older brother came to her rescue and told Grandpa, ‘Wait a little, Grandpa, I will bring it to you later.’”

“In the meantime the noise became deafening. The front of our house was almost destroyed and plaster continued falling down in chunks from the walls. My father was nowhere to be found, so my Mother became the reluctant head of the family. Since she wasn’t used to that role, she found it difficult to manage my brother, who was 11-years-old and my two sisters, four and two years old. I was ten-years old, so I tried to help them as much as I could. Without my brother’s help, however, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

“While I was thinking about what was going on, we heard an awful noise. I looked through one of the doors towards the front of the house. Part of the ceiling had fallen down, totally crushing the piano, which in normal times my brother used to play in his free time after school.”

“I said to myself ‘normal times’ and realized that I may never know again what those times were really like. Times when we said good by to our father at the door when he was going to work in the morning, and then my brother leaving for school; the times when we all came back, getting together for lunch, lovingly prepared by my mother and my grandmother. Only Grandpa was absent, I mean, not physically, just mentally, living in his own world.”

“After a few days, I saw how the naturally sweet nature of my mother had totally changed from a good humored, optimistic person, always singing or humming an Arabic song to a person I almost didn’t recognize. A once proud woman, carefully dressed, she now seemed disheveled, speaking harshly not only to us, but even to her own mother, something that she had never done before.”

“As I was having those thoughts we heard the steps of someone running towards our house and then a big noise against the front door. We were paralyzed with fear, all of us except my brother who ran towards the door, opening it slightly and seeing a young man totally covered with blood, screaming with pain. Seconds later the man fainted and fell on the floor. My brother immediately closed the door and came back to the back room where we were all sitting, terrified.”

“He described what he saw but my Mother refused to do anything for the young man at the door. Grandma, however, wouldn’t stand still. At first she asked and then she yelled to my Mother that they couldn’t leave somebody, anybody, to die all alone, like an abandoned animal. I couldn’t contain my tears.”

“Finally, seeing that she would be unable to contain Grandma, my Mother relented and went with my brother to the door, where they both pulled the young man in. Grandma brought a wet towel, and cleaned him. He slowly opened his eyes, painfully, full of terror.”

These thoughts come back to me when I see the images of a once proud and vibrant city slowly being destroyed, its inhabitants fleeing in terror from their own homes.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 30, 2017
William R. Polk
What Must be Done in the Time of Trump
Howard Lisnoff
Enough of Russia! There’s an Epidemic of Despair in the US
Ralph Nader
Crash of Trumpcare Opens Door to Full Medicare for All
Carol Polsgrove
Gorsuch and the Power of the Executive: Behind the Congressional Stage, a Legal Drama Unfolds
Michael J. Sainato
Fox News Should Finally Dump Bill O’Reilly
Kenneth Surin
Former NC Governor Pat McCory’s Job Search Not Going Well
Binoy Kampmark
The Price of Liberation: Slaughtering Civilians in Mosul
Bruce Lesnick
Good Morning America!
William Binney and Ray McGovern
The Surveillance State Behind Russia-gate: Will Trump Take on the Spooks?
Jill Richardson
Gutting Climate Protections Won’t Bring Back Coal Jobs
Robert Pillsbury
Maybe It’s Time for Russia to Send Us a Wake-Up Call
Prudence Crowther
Swamp Rats Sue Trump
March 29, 2017
Jeffrey Sommers
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon: Real Threats More Serious Than Fake News Trafficked by Media
David Kowalski
Does Washington Want to Start a New War in the Balkans?
Patrick Cockburn
Bloodbath in West Mosul: Civilians Being Shot by Both ISIS and Iraqi Troops
Ron Forthofer
War and Propaganda
Matthew Stevenson
Letter From Phnom Penh
James Bovard
Peanuts Prove Congress is Incorrigible
Thomas Knapp
Presidential Golf Breaks: Good For America
Binoy Kampmark
Disaster as Joy: Cyclone Debbie Strikes
Peter Tatchell
Human Rights are Animal Rights!
George Wuerthner
Livestock Grazing vs. the Sage Grouse
Jesse Jackson
Trump Should Form a Bipartisan Coalition to Get Real Reforms
Thomas Mountain
Rwanda Indicts French Generals for 1994 Genocide
Clancy Sigal
President of Pain
Andrew Stewart
President Gina Raimondo?
Lawrence Wittner
Can Our Social Institutions Catch Up with Advances in Science and Technology?
March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail