"Children may be the greatest losers in this story; how would I explain to them one day that their mother was the cause of the arrest and death of their father?"
With these words, Umm Khalid choked up, trying to hide her tears from the two young children she became responsible for, despite being over 60 years old.
"Nothing keeps me strong except these two young children who will suffer for the rest of their lives, even though what happened was not their fault," she said.
Umm Khalid lost three sons in the dungeons of the security branches, though the tragedy of the death of her eldest son remains the hardest for her.
"During the repeated arrest campaigns, my youngest son was arrested, while the other was arrested on his way back from Lattakia after doing some work there. Two months later I received a call from the neighborhood police station saying that I have to go to the station to get their IDs.
"Our only hope left was my eldest son, Khalid, but a fight broke out between him and his wife who left home because of the frequent fights between them. She left behind her 7-year-old son, Mohammed, and 3-year-old daughter, Nour. Two months later she asked for divorce", explained Umm Khalid.
"During the legal transactions between my son and his wife with respect to the children, and despite the fact that she wasn’t officially divorced from him, his wife went out with someone else. We later knew that he was the officer in charge of the checkpoint near her new house. When my son learned about the story, he lost his mind and went to her house asking for clarification. But when he approached the house, some security men the officer had ordered to stay to guard the house prevented him from entering.," she continued.
"A fight broke out between him and one of the men, and the officer came and ordered the arrest of both Khalid and his wife. Two hours later, the wife was released, while Khalid remained nearly six months in the infamous Military Security Branch 215 before handing his ID to his family. His only guilt was that he asked to see his wife, is it an enough reason to kill him?" Umm Khalid added.
Umm Khalid refuses to allow her son's wife to take the children or even see them, indicating that "nevertheless, I live in daily fear that she may take them forcibly, as the officer who arrested my son – to satisfy her – may take the children, too. I do not have the force to prevent him".
Mohammad and Nour, the children, spend most of their time hanging out or playing in the alley near their home. Despite the attempts of their grandmother to take care of them, her age does not allow her to take care of them as much as she should.
"I'm trying hard to provide what I can for them, they are the remaining hope I have in this life, yet, taking care of children at this age is exhausting, especially when they repeat their innocent questions like: 'If dad has gone to heaven, when mom will be back?'"
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer