Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997

Round Barakat

War was never a barrier to stop her life, to stop the things she loved and loved to do. She was born in her country, Syria. She lived with her family in peace. Her family was large and it was her main priority, the only thing she loved so strongly.

There was no way for her to get strength, inspiration and support other than to sit with her family members and chat about interesting things. Just sitting with her family warmed her heart.

She had four older brothers, two older sisters and one younger sister.

She was not even eleven years old but she knew the importance of these little things. She knew how to make her family smile and be proud of her.

Roz was an exemplary student and had the coolest friends and teachers; every year at the end of an exhausting school year they exchanged a small notebook called The Memories Book. It was very soft, colourful and had a lock with a key. In this book, they hid the love of friends (their love).

Truly, this small diary wasn't an absurd or futile idea as she had initially thought. She felt the importance of every detail this notebook contained.

April 20, 2011, this was when the tragedy, the disappointment and the suffering began; the
ambitions and hopes began to break down slowly; everything began to change and became colourless, totally pale.

She and her family started to hear uncommon, scary, sounds; like shooting sounds coming from strange people who started to fill, occupy their neighbourhood; a sense of fear and insecurity began to surround them.

"We must collect our important papers and documents and set them aside; we never know what can happen between the hours," her dad, Mohammed said.

Her parents were careful and punctual; sometimes, they acted as if they knew what would happen in the future. Rooz was always confused and wondered whether it was just her parents or if all parents knew and felt things that young people did not know.

At that time, they began to feel unstable.

When they heard gunshots, the family started to gather together to stay in one room, which was the parents' room, and far from the main street. It felt the most protected and the safest in that big house. They lived like this for a few days; they could not move much or make sounds, they stayed without lights, they could not even go out to the balcony or even outside the house for their safety.

At those times, their freedom was killed as if a bird was locked in a small cage after being used to flying from one place to another. It was similar to that; it was extremely difficult.

That was great for her though; the whole family was sleeping in one room. The only thing that helped her and her family to be less afraid was their presence in one room, sleeping on one com- fortable bed that had a red, silk cover. That was enough to make her and her family stay calm.

"Everything will be okay," These words were the only words that she believed strongly and that made her feel less worried.

These words came out from affectionate mouths that did not know to lie; from her parents' mouths, they kept telling her and her siblings that "Everything will be okay."

Even if things weren't going to get better, these words were warm enough for her to feel safe at that moment.

No matter how difficult the circumstances are, there are always souls and people that remove the burden of life.

Days and nights passed with her and her family struggling until the situation became more dangerous and more insecure;

"We should get ourselves ready tonight and leave." Her dad said.
"No way, I am not leaving my home." Her mom, Sabah, argued strongly.
"There is no choice." replied her dad.

The argument went on, but her dad was able to persuade her mother and the rest of the
family; they decided to leave their home and neighbourhood to live in another safer place. They left their house on a moonlit night. They left their house hoping to return to it the next morning if not a week later.
Days and nights passed, she and her family could not go home. Still, they could visit it every two or three days until the situation has worsened and they were not able to identify their home anymore.
The inability to go back home was unacceptable to her and her family, but they still had a glimmer of hope to return to the place where they had grown up.

The situation worsened more and more. Many people had left their homes and some had even left the country and emigrated to safer countries where they could build a better future from the most beautiful dreams and ambitions. She and her family joined those people who left the country.

Her parents made this decision; it was not easy, though. Especially for Roz. She was the most frustrated with this decision because she would be far from people she loved, her friends, relatives, and neighbours. She was afraid of details like how to start a new beginning, how to start in a new and different school with a new language. Thinking about these things for days made her feel exhausted. But, she was sure that her parents were doing the right thing.

After their departure to Turkey, no one liked it. Everything began to differ for them; it took them a few months until they adapted to the situation.

She started her new school, and her family started their business.

Roz then realized that going and living in another country was not that bad; it was a perfect chance to discover new things and new cultures.

Growing in another country seemed like something interesting.

This country seemed to give her many opportunities as she was growing.

She believed that there is always wisdom in everything that happens and fates change in a matter of seconds for better or worse, there is something or a lesson to learn and benefit from throughout the changes.