“They are present in all details of our lives; in the joy and the sorrow, they have never left our tearful conversations. They are alive,” says Abu Hassan, also known as the father of the martyrs after he lost his three sons one after another on the altar of the Syrian revolution.
Thus, Abu Hassan has had no chance to end his mourning. The elder son, Hassan, a media activist, was the last one to go. However, losing him was the top of the tragedy for this grieving father.
When asked him about his sons, Abu Hassan gushes like a flowing spring; recalling them all at once.
"Their mother and I recall lots of beautiful memories with them; Hassan was like a father for his brothers and a child with his mother. She had always stayed up late with him during his preparation to the high school final exams. She followed him like his shadow and you can’t imagine her happiness when he managed to study architecture. He was really superior before he stopped college after the revolution, and he decided to devote himself and give his soul away to it.," he says.
The father’s eyes glitter as he rewinds the tape of the memories in his mind while talking tenderly about Hussein. Shaking his head, he recalls, “Hussein my middle son was so kind, and he was always acting older than his age. So he enrolled in the revolution since the beginning. He did not have the chance to give all what he wanted to, but he gave it the most precious; his life, before he completed his 17th year."
A calm smile returns to his face as he continues: "Hussein was a passionate and funny person. He used to imitate Hamza, his youngest brother in order to tease him, but Hamza always settled the score by making fun of Hussein’s way of walking and talking.”
He draws the picture in his mind then speaks it out loud: "Their arguments and shouting was adorable. Bashar Assad killed them, so there is no voice today in the house but their mother’s wailing every time she is attacked by sorrow or sounds of the shelling."
Abu Hassan is one of hundreds of thousands Syrian people who has lost their sons and daughters. Today they live the heartbreaking memories and the woes of the war and the ceaseless killing.
The catastrophe does not seem to have an ending; losing someone to death is just the start of the painful series of losing beloved ones. Death escorts them with no choice or mercy, and lots of them would not find the time to grieve due to continuous disasters. They are inside the death square by force with no hope of getting out until the reasons change.
Besides his three boys, Abu Hassan has lost many relatives. He has one boy and two widowed daughters left. His elder daughter’s husband, who is also his nephew, was killed a year and a half ago in the operation of Otaya town in Damascus countryside; he was an FSA recruit who contributed in libration of the air defense battalion in the town. He left three children for Abu Hassan to raise. The other son in law was killed in random shelling while he was helping a wounded man; he left a wife and two children.
The last one to die was Hassan, the media activist also known as Mohammed al-Tayyep. He was a well-known and a popular person who became a martyr four months ago along with three of his colleagues in an ambush while covering a battle in the Jarba region in Eastern Ghouta. Ttheir bodies were found three days later. Hassan had excelled in his studies of architecture at the European University in Damascus. However, he left study to enrol in the revolution in the media sector until he died, leaving a shocked family who had already lost two sons in similar circumstances.
Hussein, the second son and the first martyr for the family, was only 15 years old when everything started. He was a non-violent protester who was forced to leave school after it was bombed. After a year and a half he chose to join the armed revolution starting with a preparation course for new recruits.
The course was with the Islam brigade and he entered his first battle at the age of 17. He was killed after a short journey in the battle of al-Shifonieh Regiment Liberation battle.
Hamza was the youngest brother who could not bear the absence of a brother and very close friend. He dropped out of school after previously being an active and smart student and joined the al-Islam cubs as a new recruit, where he was killed by a mortar shell.
Abu Hassan confirmed that his look and interaction with the revolution have not weakened or faded as it did not in his sons before death. The revolution for them was like a doctrine and a dream to eliminate dictatorship and injustice from the Syrian people. At the same time, he does not deny the huge and endless pain that he shares with his wife and daughters. They have lost almost every reason for happiness. Nevertheless, they still believe that the expensive cost was definitely for a higher nobel cause; that’s how they say they “plant patience in their hearts and continue the road."
Before the revolution, Abu Hassan owned an establishment for building and construction. He also operated several rocks crushers and had a luxurient lifestyle. He says that after the second year of the revolution he stopped all the work and devoted himself to his family to win the battle for freedom.
Many were martyred and the rest are still on the ground. He enrolled in the military actions as a logistic supporter and has cooperated with most of the big military formations. He also contributed in forming the eastern Ghouta Mujahedeen Council. Then he was assigned by the Shura’s and Mujahedeen Councils to administrate the Douma region; a job he was designated to.
Abu Hasan’s family had always stayed away from politics, but not from fighting injustice that forced them, as Abu Hassan says: "to get involved in the military actions because of the way the regime treated the non-violent movement."
The goal has become to destroy the regime, regardless the price they paid and are still to pay, he says, summarising the whole matter by saying that “we live in God’s hands and have always had a full faith in His will. Our life today is so difficult like as our brothers in the whole Eastern Ghouta. Despite that we have no choice but to continue to the end of the road of change we paid that expensive price to make."