Elena’s Birthay

“Elena was born on January 21, 2016. The day she was born the bombing on #Ghouta was so intense that we could not leave the hospital until late in the evening. On her first birthday the bombing was so intense and she was sick, we could only able to celebrate the birthday a month after. On her second birthday, January 21, 2018, the bombing was also intense and she was sick, so we decided to celebrate a week after. But then the heavy bombing campaign started and we weren’t ableto celebrate. When the ceasefire was announced my wife said if the ceasefire really takes effect we should fix our house and throw Elena a birthday party and invite everyone we know. Sadly there is no ceasefire, no party, nothing.” Rafat Baeram Elena’s dad.

“There was supposed to be a ceasefire today! I woke up in the shelter early, imagining how I will start packing my things, how I will take them back home and leave this basement. How when I get home I’ll clean up and organize and wash the dishes and do laundry. That Elena will play with her toys in her room and Rafat will pretend to be helping me.

Then I started mentally planning my daughter’s birthday party which we couldn’t celebrate on the actual day. I really want to throw a party even if it’s small. I’d invite a few people and bake a cake on the gas heater and decorate the house with the ornaments I prepared three months ago. It would be a change from the climate of fear and bombing we’ve been living.

These are small and simple dreams. All of a sudden the sound of missiles and launchers burned everything I was dreaming of. It told me that I’m staying in the shelter indefinitely, that I will only celebrate my daughter’s birthday in my imagination, that the ornaments will be spoiled and won’t wait for me, that boredom will eat my heart and that my body will ache from fear and my mind will go crazy with all the bad thoughts that are haunting me. How long will we stay like this?
Ceasefire!” Laila Bakry, Elena’s mom.

Photo and interview by عدسة سام, Douma, #EasternGhouta (28 Feb. 2018)