My name is Majid, I am 23 years old and come from Qamishli, Syria. My village is located at the border between Syria and Iraq, many different peoples live there, with different languages. It is a beautiful village, people helped each other in difficult times. I was one of the Kurds in the village, our people suffered problems in the past, which still shapes us today. When the conflicts arrived in our village, we were afraid, afraid that the past would happen again. We had a good life, loved and respected each other.
During the war everyone had to join the military, the men were recruted. Before that, if you were still studying, you could postpone your compulsory service, but in the war everyone was forced to fight. The traffic connections became worse and worse, whole roads were blocked by the controls. Paths that only took a short time before the war now took several hours. At the checkpoints, people were being controlled in an unworthy way.
I studied in Damascus, far from where I lived. On the way to the university we had constant problems with the control officers. We were stopped for nothing, beaten and raided. Because I knew we’d be raided, I hid some of the money and left the other one in my pocket. We’re a big family, I carried the expenses for me and my sister. That was a lot of money for us. When we went to university one day, we were checked. The soldiers always called out four people. We had to wait, I was afraid and the waiting made me even more afraid. They asked us where we were going, they knew that students always had some money for the university. We told them we had nothing. They beat us, they didn’t know us, they didn’t care about us. I thought, “Should I tell him I have more money or not?” He hit me in the face, I thought, “Should I give it to him or not?” We stood in the heat for an hour. Students and sick people who were undergoing treatment drove with us. Everything was taken from them, too. They’ve been put under even more pressure.
Arrived in Damascus, they told us not to look up whatever was happening. Everything was destroyed, on the rooftops of the houses stood snipers who were ready to shoot if something seemed suspicious to them. I held my cell phone a bit too high in the taxi, the taxi driver informed the police. They frightened me, but thank God I was released. One night, it was already a curfew, I passed a checkpoint. I was stopped by a soldier while suddenly many cars drove past me. Maybe there was a president in the car, or some other important person. If I’d gone further, they’d have killed me. The officer saved my life, I still pray for him today.
One day my mother called and asked me to come home. I didn’t want to give up university, it made me sad, but something in her voice gave me security. She wanted to go to Turkey with us. None of us wanted to leave university. We fled to Turkey. We fled in two groups, they took more and more men with them to force them into the military. They took even 14-year-old children with them to fight. We were so afraid that we didn’t dare to go to the market anymore. We’ve been told that the searches of the houses begin in the evening. My father told us we all need to get out.
It was hard to leave everything, your room, your house, your university. You left everything there. The decision was not easy for either of us. In the end, it was the circumstance that forced us to leave our homeland. We went by bus, my sister spoke Arabic well, that was good because Kurds got more problems at the checkpoints. We arrived in Turkey after many detours and difficulties.
My parents and two of my siblings stayed in Syria, they wanted to rent our apartment and follow. One of my brothers got recruited. A family promised to accompany my parents on their escape. It was very tight in the car, everyone had to hide, my brother was very tall. He was hit by a bullet right next to his heart. He was admitted to hospital. My parents were no longer allowed to travel. He lost a lot of blood. They had to go back to our village. In the village they called all the boys together, they gave him blood. He survived. Today he lives in Turkey. My parents are in Germany now.
I would like to start my studies in Germany, I wish for a life like everyone else. When asked about my view of the future, I say that life has many surprises and difficulties. Experience teaches us to overcome stony paths and to avoid the paths full of thorns. We have no choice but to develop the ability to overcome these hurdles. I call my story velvet-soft thorns because the catastrophes in life teach us, give us strength and give us the gift of mastering life.
Storyteller’s name: Majid
Interviewer’s name: Sarah El Desoke
Country of origin: Syria