From the sounds of the guns and from underneath the rubble of our homes, we see hope emerging. As much as they try to kill our spirit, they will fail because we are a people that know how to enjoy life. They tried to bury us by besieging our bodies and our thoughts. They tried burying us, but they did not know that we are seeds – our roots are so deep that they will not be able to uproot us from our land, we are like sturdy trees.
Five years ago, I was separated from my family and I chose to fight for freedom of my country. I chose my weapons and I advanced with the revolutionaries; my pen was my weapon and my camera was my best friend and, with them, I participated in battles that saw both successes and defeats. I was able to document thousands of screams and what seems like a million of bombings over three years. I lived with my friend in a small house, there are many things which we do not have as the war made us lose some of our humanity. I became used to seeing massacres, they no longer affected me as I walked through the streets of my area while tens of bombings rained down on me. I started going crazy and felt like I was losing my emotions, spending most of my time on the internet looking through the news. The headlines and the pictures were repeating themselves daily. Every day I tried to escape my routine and I decided to start making documentary videos. I wrote the scenario of my first video and this took up most of my time. This video spoke of different ways of bringing aid into the besieged city of Homs.
On the morning of July 17, 2014 I was looking through my messages and I found a message from a young lady who works in film documentation. She asked me for pictures of martyrs in the area and we began a long conversation that started with introducing ourselves and ended with the conditions of the area. We kept talking for a week, I began to learn about her personal life and I became intrigued about her. I thought long about how I could continue working with her after I had finished gathering the pictures that she needed. I decided to invite her to help me in writing my movie’s scenario and she very happily accepted.
After twenty days of work I was sitting with her at a table. She was very beautiful, twenty years old, sunburnt skin and with a smile that never leaves her face. We spoke at length about work and its stages and about the different methods of video recording. Then she told me that a condition for her accepting the work is that she wanted to accompany me in the shooting of the movie. I was shocked because I would be shooting in a very dangerous area! I didn’t give her condition much thought and just agreed, thinking that she was just saying it to catch my attention. I went back home and started remembering the details of our conversation, drawing the details of her face in my mind. I felt something strange towards her, I hoped to see her again soon – she restored part of my emotions which I had lost long ago. A few days later I went out into the filming location and spent thirteen days filming there. I saw the struggles of the fighters and the conditions of their daily lives – these were times that I cannot forget. I was filled with mixed emotions and documented the fighters’ dreams and pains, their tears and their joys.
I would share some of these stories with her, she still asked if she could join me on set. However, she didn’t give up. This young women, after a lot of insistence, finally convinced me to let her come to the front lines so she could help me film the end of the movie. The day was Tuesday August 26, 2014. We spent a wonderful day filming together and at some point we sat and talked. It was at this point that I faced my fears and confessed to my love for her. We finished filming, said our goodbyes to the fighters and returned to the real world. The next day, I went to her house to review the footage. We spoke at length about the film and decided to make a team called ‘Correspondents in War’; we would work on this together and would combat war through the lens of a camera.
After three months, we finished production of our film and, by this time, we had gotten very close to each other. I started seeing hope through her eyes – she change my life completely. We participated in our first local film festival and achieved second place. Our relationship developed and we eventually became engaged. When proposing, I wanted to surprise her. I took her to the area where we filmed our first movie together and put a ring on her finger in the same location where I had initially confessed my love for her. Our journey to this area was a short journey of death accompanied with symphonies of war. The gun was the piano, the cannon was the drum. It was a very intense day, with a heavy battle that was playing the symphony of death. We made it, however, into a symphony of love, where I proposed and we pledged to remain together forever.
Her name is Judy, she is here among us in this YaLa Citizen Journalism course. We are one soul in two different bodies, and we do everything together.