14 hours in darkness by J. from Syria

On Valentine’s Day four years ago, I woke up and did not expect that this day will change my life forever. The revolution had started a few months ago, and I was working in the humanitarian aid field, my job was to send medications and food for needy people who were affected by the Syrian conflict in my city.

When I woke up I didn’t really feel comfortable, something was off about that day and I was soon to figure out what it was. First, when I woke up and looked at my phone I found it out of service. I also didn’t see my mother in the morning, I had to leave the house quickly.

I did not have my breakfast neither my coffee. Maybe a part of me knew my morning ceremonies would not prevent my ominous fate.

I left with two of my friends to the headquarters of the organization to fill the car up with food, and we went ahead to the desired neighborhood to drop off supplies. But we ran out of gas! That was absolutely not a good time for this! Changing our set plan will expose us to be arrested if any security patrol suddenly appears, but we had no other solution, we had to go to a gas station. This was quite nerve-racking. I started to pray, I continued doing that until we arrived at the station, we filled the tank up, and yes we overcame this peacefully.

We continued our journey, and my friend took a different road. On this road, we encountered a security patrol. I was both in shock and terrified. “ Oh my God there is a security patrol at the end of the road” My legs started to shake. “ It must be our end!!” I said: “Mohammad stop the car stop the car! it’s a security patrol! We will wait until they leave”. He said: “No, we will pass peacefully. Don’t worry.”

He continued driving. I was praying they would not asking from us to stop but they did.

“Take the windows down”, they said: “give us your IDs” we did, “open the trunk” they said. I thought to myself “Oh my God! We are done.”

Mohammad got off from the car and opened the trunk, silence struck me and I started hearing my heartbeat. Time stopped and I couldn’t breathe any more.All I was thinking in my head was about my mother, my siblings, my house, my friends, how painful if I don’t see them again!

“traitors, terrorists, I will kill you!”was yelling the officer “take everything out of the trunk!”

I took a look at my phone and it was still out of service, I removed the sim card. I had to find a way to get rid of it, to not release any information regarding the names and numbers of people who work against the government and lead them to jail. When I couldn’t find a way to get rid from the sim card I swallowed it.  

“Get them out of the car and drive them to the office” the officer said. They put me in a room, 6 men entered! Now I know what is waiting for me. Punch from here punch from there I hit the wall, “terrorist, terrorist” that’s how they called me but I was working for a humanitarian mission, what humanity I’m talking about! Nothing in common.

The car that should have picked me up to the main security office just arrived and they put me in the car going to there as we got closer to the main door, I needed a miracle to enlighten the darkness, then I heard a miraculous voice telling me “I will help you.. Stay strong.” That voice was the huge surprise I was given the moments exactly before freedom.    

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