To the martyrs of Saidnaya
We, the Syrians, cannot stop speaking, and yet we cannot speak. The grotesque has challenged our words, time and time again, and destroyed them. And every single time, we felt that only an eternal silence would protect our dignity, and honor the violated ones among us. Yet again, we end up using the broken words that have been damaged many times. We cannot stop. We want our voices to be heard, but they never are. They have turned into a monotonous noise, unnoticeable by anyone, as if we were the machine operating backstage, heard only by those in the scene, but never listened to.
We speak nonetheless, wanting to be heard and seen. To be witnessed. To say that we are the active scene. The grotesque are our damaged bodies. The bodies of our brothers, friends and loved-ones. It is the scene to which gazes must turn, and to which ears must pay attention. We speak. How can we not?
However, the experience of broken words is real and cannot be ignored. If we were to continue speaking, we would have had to fix our words, or else risk further damage to them. Because of this, we must turn our speeches and texts into workhouses to heal our words; to invent new ones and create a silence which is able to speak. That inventive silence which precedes words and meaning and in which words are healed and reborn.
Our words are unheard, so let our silence be heard.
We, the Syrians, need a verbose event in which to contemplate our words; to feel and express them; to pay our respects to them and care for their safety and dignity.
This event might take the form of a day filled with complete silence; a day with no words, expression and communication.
A day of chosen solitude, even if we were out in the streets, amongst everyone.
A day for our anxious prayer for the tortured and broken words. For words that have died and those that have been reborn.
A silence that celebrates the spirit of words; of meaning. Its life and persistence in the face of the grotesque; its ability to move through times and cultures; its remit to resist atrocity.
It is a protest against a world of noise, and an element of our new identity.
We, the Syrians…
Yassin al-Haj Saleh
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