Sleeping or Dead – Part 1: “Everything Screams Death”

This is the first instalment in “Sleeping or Dead”, a six-part series by activist Sarmad Al Jilane about his experiences in a Syrian prison.

Away from our blue, virtual world, you look at yourself and find that you’re the only one whose pertinences have disappeared. They slowly ooze out, exposing pain as a truth that you can clearly see, both inside and out. A truth that lives up to its name. One that becomes a list of feelings and expressions, not metaphors.

But when you come back to the real world and beyond the charm of the theatre and the pretty stage and actors, and open the door that leads backstage, people turn into flesh and blood and everything screams death. Doubt vanishes and you’re assured of your existence despite the earth’s revolving on its pivot of doom, and you realize that you are here, trapped behind walls built by your parents, and before them your grandparents, brick by brick.

They arrested my father and me three times, but that wasn’t enough for me to “learn a lesson” as the Security Branch Chief said, vowing that the fourth time would be a charm. He proved his dominance over us by breaking even our simplest concepts.

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