Image: Palmyra, Syria – 2 by James Gordon from Los Angeles, California, USA – Palmyra, Syria. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Worldly known as ‘The Cradle of Civilizations” or so my people like to claim is the nickname of our land, that we have inherited the land that supposedly gave humanity the first alphabet, first musical composition and the three monolithic religions (I am perfectly aware Islam was born in Arabia but some claim Mohammed was greatly influenced by crossing path with Christians and Jews during his travels to Syria while others claim Islam only gained world status when the state capital was moved to Damascus). Again, this only shows my people’s obsession with linking our geographic location to the most prominent and important events of the ancient world.
And this is how we like to view ourselves; both important and ancient. Today mid of may 2015 we are neither.
Our importance is reduced to flashes in world-news daily broadcast and some UN reports, while the proof of our ancient existence is diminishing by the minute.
With the recent news over possibility of losing of Syria’s most important sites in Palmyra (Tadmor in Arabic) the sudden world interest is a little bit disturbing. My feelings swing between two extremes; sadness and fear of loss and guilt from caring too much for a ‘tourist site’ while hundreds die everyday. Knowing that international pleas for protection wouldn’t have an effect, still at the same time feeling gratitude that Tadmor isn’t completely forgotten.
I am sitting in a public library that, for some weird reason, plays slow melancholic music for visitors, slow melancholic rain is falling outside, I walk nearby the travel section and pick up the only book about Syria; The French Hachette blue guide. It has a large photo of Palmyra’s columns on the cover. Now the conspiracy against my sanity is complete!
Let’s wait for what will happen before getting completely desperate. If we believe what my people say about our land, then we can picture the current state as a virtual killing by the modern human of its home. The modern man doesn’t need his childhood home anymore. The modern man is a grown-up.
I, on the other hand, am still nostalgic about my centuries-old ancestors. As I watch the rain silently, I hope for a miracle to save that magical place. I am fully aware that the war had costed us all so many things, so many people. The hardest of course were the people we knew, people we shared magical times with. For me, Tadmor is one of those people (I strongly believe places have souls) and in Tadmor; I felt pride and joy between the ruins, had a chill when I entered its burial towers for the first time, and got attached to her famous queen.
The imminent loss is also personal. Soon this person will seize to exist except in our unreliable memories and a few hashtags.