Wednesday 2 May 2012

“They destroyed me for good, but I’m staying put”

Abu-William perched on the balcony of his ruined flat (Asharq Alawsat photo)
An elderly figure sits cross-legged on the balcony of his wrecked home in Homs. Ceaseless bombardment and shelling by the Syrian Army for months has left most residential areas in Homs and many other restive cities, towns, neighborhoods and villages in ruin.
The lonely and broken man from Homs is Abu William Kaddoura. He could only salvage a broken chair, a wooden table, a mattress and an ashtray from his lifetime savings to own and furnish a home.
Taking a puff at his cigarette, he reflects on camera:
“My home? My home is wrecked. Today, my wife arrived from Damascus. She saw this and turned tail in under 15 minutes. She stayed 15 minutes in Homs before taking to her heals. I mean to say she was right. What is this? The dirt, the dust after the shell destroyed everything.
“Who did it? The Syrian Army! Who else? Who has tank shells? Who else has rockets? They destroyed me. They destroyed me for good.”
But how are you surviving now?
“By God’s grace and with the young men lending me a helping hand.”
Will you be staying put?
“Until I die. There is no way I would leave. I die? Then I am hauled to my grave. Let them take over my home afterwards.”
But who is helping you and protecting you?
“In truth, the young men, the young men from the revolution. They are good people. Much too good in fact! They are getting me food and water. But I am painfully shy. I shy away from asking them for anything – haraam (it’s a pity). I don’t know what to say, haraam. Today, they got me bread. They got me food. They’re good people. Much too good in fact!”
But your place is now wide open on the street below now!
“Yes, I know. But who is going to get in. Thieves? Let them come in. If they find anything, they can take it.”
And the message you wish to get across?
“Enough! Enough shelling! Let us live! If we still have 10 or 20 days to live, let’s know how to live them. God is merciful to everyone.”

The two-minute Abu-William video posted on YouTube yesterday: