“When I moved to London I started teaching Arabic.

I’ve been doing this to fill my free time integrating with the British people, and for the extra income as London is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

In the first session with a new student recently, they started the conversation with,

“So you are Syrian? I’m so sorry for what’s happening. I’ve always wanted to visit Damascus. It’s such a historical city.”

My answer was,

“Well you have definitely lost your chance. Damascus now has nothing to do with Damascus before the uprising. Some of my people were detained and tortured, the lucky ones escaped this to the next life. Some have managed to sell all of what they have to buy a ticket which will send them to one of two destinations: the bottom of the ocean or Europe.

The population gone are replaced with Iraqi, Lebanese, Irani, Afghani and international militias.

The Americans, Russians, British and others are bombing every corner but fail to send essential aid.

The ones who stayed are surviving the unbearable. They suffer one siege after another and food supplies are limited, as is electricity, petrol for cars and heat in our freezing cold winter.

I often think of them when I do something fun, enjoy my time doing the simplest things, or even when I feel safe. I always have this painful regret of leaving my beloved city and people behind. I believe I left my heart there and can’t get over it. Anyway, what do you think?”

The student looked at their watch and looked back at me saying,

“I think you should be the one paying for this session, not me. I might need an Arabic teacher but you definitely need a shrink, mate.”

Today marks my fourth anniversary of fleeing #Damascus. God only knows if and when I’ll ever go back and be whole again.”
By Buraq Ziad Alsmadi – an amazing Arabic teacher based in London!