The last time I did this was in Syria at my dads brothers home. Amo (my uncle) owned a petrol station and lived next to it. As I child I could never keep up with the amount of cousins I had as mashallah his family outnumbered all. The revolution changed that..
My uncle would wait at the door of his house when he heard we arrived in Jobar/Homs. He had such a loud and strong voice. He had the typical Arab headpiece on his head that men wear in rural Syria and the gulf – the ‘agal.
We would make our way up the 3 floors (each floor housing one of his married kids) and walk over dozens of shoes ranging from elderly to baby and reach the door. Before we even went in, he had starting shouting for the food to be put out.
He was so hot tempered to everyone but so loving to us “these are my dear brothers children!”…I loved him. I really did. His stories of his fights with the gang living across the street who either tried to attack a random lady or tried to steal from the local shop or shot at his son were so interesting he was always ready to defend people and many times he actually shot back….it would just make me laugh. He loved action. But I knew that he wouldn’t last long with the Syrian conflict.
The food was put out as large (huge) plates of rice and chicken and everyone would dig in sharing these big plates.
He then would see us struggle with the concept of eating a chicken that’s been touched and ripped apart by someone else and the rice eaten by hand from the same plate (pathetic English infection control) and he would laugh and shout “bring the English girls plates and spoons! ”
My dad was banned from Syria for 17 years because he didn’t complete military training and wanted to work as a doctor here. His brother made us feel at home every summer in Syria.
On this day 2013 we got the news.
Yesterday 2013 my uncles family were given news that their father and brother were dead in the military hospital “natural causes” ….. in the military hospital. They left home the day before that and never returned.
My uncle had lost his baby son Mahmoud aged 16 during the crazy attack by the regime on our neighbouring village Baba Amr. My cousin Mahmoud was helping injuries out and disappeared. He is one of Syria’s disappeared.
My uncle never gave up for a year trying to find him. This led to him getting into riskier and riskier situations.
On this last occasion my cousin Ahmad told his dad “you won’t go alone.” Ahmad was one of the kindest men ever. He married such a beautiful woman and had 4 stunning children. The youngest was 4 months. Ahmad never came back that day with his dad.
The regime tortured my uncle and cousin to death at a checkpoint. It didn’t last long which for us Syrians is a blessing. But they’re gone. And Mahmoud is still missing.
Today as with every day, is a painful memory for us. My uncle stopped talking to us from 2012 to 2013. His daughter would relay the messages saying he was afraid for his son and didn’t want to risk the rest of his family as we were outspoken about regime.
My uncle lost his grandson during that year too and lost many of his nephews and cousins. I think he got to the end of his patience on 30/03/17 when he went out angry to find his missing son and disappeared and was reported dead a day later.
Since he died, my uncles family have lost much more. His son-in-law died under torture. His daughter died of cancer. But they are so strong and they are my besties for life ❤
Despite talking rarely and having to clear their whatsapp whenever we speak as they cross checkpoints…they’re in my heart.
Please pray for my uncle Mohamad Nour Alakraa (Abu Akram) and his son Ahmad Alakraa may they rest in peace and may Allah continue to protect the remaining family. Please pray my cousin Mahmoud Alakraa is returned safe to his family soon…it’s been 5 years this February.