The Jasmines Don’t Grow Anymore

I was no rebel
And this, was a rebellion
Him, oh! how he still made his Abbu proud
The man stood up against the fire
For the country that he loved more than his life

Artwork by Alafiya

There is a meadow in the city
Where the jasmines bloomed all through the summer
Where he first pressed my hand in his, and asked me to keep my heart strong.
He said, someday when the time was right
We will move, to a better life.

And who are they to judge? Would Allah really denounce-
A friendship that blossomed into love

A Yassin and his Amar
Two boys who fell in love.

A family had moved from Damascus I was six and he was seven
A boy with bright green eyes.
I was timid, lonely and quiet
But him, with his vigour and strength
How he made his Abbu proud
When Samir knocked the air out of me
For being the weakest in our class
Amar thrashed the bully and said he’d better; Not see him around.
My heart swelled with admiration and pride
But oh! It was more than just that
The day the strongest boy stood up for me
The puny poet in disguise.
In Aleppo, the city of our dreams
The merry souq-al-bizuriyyah,
meat shawarmas and a meadow within
I fell in love with him and he, with me
A crown of jasmines and love sworn- as seen on TV
But we hid it from our families
And we hid it from Allah
But that evening in the meadow
Seventeen, in love and confused
His lips on mine were all that mattered
As I looked into his bright green eyes.
How could something that felt so pure
Then be so wrong?
But when we told Ammi
She cried
And I sobbed all night
But she looked at me and then she looked at Amar
And I swear, I saw her smile through the tears

She said, she would love me regardless
And so would Abbu
For to them, it felt right.
That day in the sunny old city.
Things he said engraved in my memory
The Damascene, with the bright green eyes
Said someday, he would marry me.
Then one day, bombs fell
On my city and his
And the tanks rolled in
What had started with peaceful uprisings
Had escalated to something harrowing.
In Tunisia, a man immolated for democracy
In Syria, he was a martyr;
The Mohamed Bouazizi.
2011, the year marked with blood
Abbu had left to join the men in clock square
But never returned
“Selmiyyeh, Selmiyyeh!” The men had cried
But the Mukhabarat showed no mercy
Their big guns treated men and children alike.
Amar, was the revolutionary kind
A strong man with green eyes
His vigour, his speech
Caught fire among men
He demanded justice for Hassan Ali Alekh
The man who had burned for our rights.
But I was a puny civilian
Watched the man I loved take up arms against the state

I was no rebel
And this, was a rebellion
Him, oh! how he still made his Abbu proud
The man stood up against the fire
For the country that he loved more than his life
Just as on the playground
The air had escaped my lungs
Assad was the bully
And Amar, the Damascene with a fighting spirit
We said goodbye the night he left for war
In a jeep full of headstrong rebels
He kissed my lips
On the darkest night, Aleppo had ever seen
In the meadow within the city
The air was bitter cold
And the jasmines didn’t grow anymore
A gray barren field.
I took his hands into mine
And said someday, we’d move to a better life.
But deep down, I knew the day would never
come.
Aleppo, my city of birth
Like our dreams
Now reduced to smoke and smithereens
We left town that day, Ammi and I
With the memories of a burning city
And a raging war
To which I lost, my Abbu
And a damascene man

I loved more than I loved my life
But he loved his country.


Wish. (Epilogue)
I walk amidst an armed IDF platoon
The streets, littered with rubble
We see a building crumble to dust
A Hezbollah rocket
Only a few miles from Haifa
As we walk
One man whispers to another
When he thought he was out of earshot
“After the war, I shall await at the synagogue of our kibbutz
To marry or die here, in your arms.”
His lover smiles, then gently nods.
A military man, but love had made his heart soft.
The militia, equally armed
Ambushed us
Gun fire in every direction
And the Jewish man who had conveyed his dying wish
Now lay in a pool of blood
Another rocket went off at a distance
Another building up in flames
His lover weeped, he had lost his other half
My pen could only conveyed the cold political side of it
One man lost to hezbollah.
His remains were buried among others
His lover begs for the same.
The synagogue in their kibbutz, deprived of a union.

About the author

Dhruv

Dhruv is a 22 year old poet. Pursuing a masters in Society and Culture Studying geopolitics and comparative literature are his particular interests. You can find him hunting for inspiration in literature/film festivals or in obscure archaic bookstores, or just casually strolling on busy streets.
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