"Where are you from?" a Turkish journalist asked me.
"I am Syrian," I replied.
"I am sorry," she said.
"So am I," I said, while nodding my head.
When the Turkish journalist asked me about my nationality and felt her sympathy for me, it occurred to me to tell her that I am a Syrian woman. I love just as you do, but in a country that is not mine. I feel sad as you do, but I cannot express my feelings because I walk through the streets of a city I do not belong to.
I do read poetry and watch movies as you do. My lover does not have time today to flirt with me. He spends the time talking about our losses and defeats as Syrians abroad, and I join him in this not so pleasant conversation.
I get angry when he gets angry, and I laugh when he laughs. I try to assure him when he worries in the hope that he helps me when I am feeling down, and then he may say a word of flirting, but he is haunted by Syria, and he talks about its streets he almost forgot.
As a Syrian journalist, I carry a Syrian passport with the Syrian regime's logo printed on its cover. I am not allowed to visit my country. Whenever I pass by an airport, I wish I had a passport that did not contain the word "Syria" and that it had a color other than dark blue, because it puts me all the time in the category of "a suspect".
I am automatically suspected of carrying a false passport, or of being a terrorist, or of being a potential refugee and a new burden on any country to which I arrive. In airports, I watch the colors of those booklets by which normal humans travel and pass through airport security personnel in a natural way. I feel that it is one of my rights to carry a passport that gives me the feeling that I am a normal human being and not a carrier of a contagious epidemic or a fugitive engaged in criminal activity.
No one cares to verify the validity of their suspicions about my contagion or my criminal activity, or even my validity as a human being.
I am a Syrian journalist living and working outside my country. I write about Syria and for it, but unfortunately, I cannot visit it.
I take a position on some Arab and Western press because I know that my commodity of words has no market in promotional news for beauty pageants, and I am just a guest journalist in another country.
I see Europe's distaste for the Syrian refugees, and I read about it in the diaries of refugee friends trying to integrate. Some of them deny their relationship to our common country, hoping that they will get the approval of some of the racists in the countries of refuge. I am a journalist outside my country.
I write news about the Turkish-European agreement that sentenced us to death. I feel angry after Trump's decisions to place my country among those under travel ban as if we are all terrorists by nature. I do not know if I would feel the same thing if I did not have to flee death, arrest, or loss of dignity in my country.
Every day I feel that I am a journalist with a broken pen. I am busy with the Syrians' media wars in the country of exile, between two parties who are competing to attack me as a woman of their own country. They say I am a prostitute on every occasion one party decides to attack the other.
Once we talk about the nationality, they turn their faces, and the conversation turns to absurd media wars between the two sides of the regime and its opponents. They come up with all the lies and make up news.
Sometimes, I escape from the cruelty of words to the space of the woman inside me, but it is a space that narrows every day. Although I do not live in a tent, and I do not get cold at night, and I do not await aid from organizations that they say are humanitarian, I know other women who do.
They accept to talk to me after they know that I am a journalist from their country. I am ashamed to tell them that I differ from them and that I have food for my daughter, because I work here in the city that abuses them, but they stealthily conspire with me, and they do not ask me about my life.
They talk to me about the blackmail that they are subjected to in order to have something to eat, and about the cold winter and the organizations ignoring them.
They talk to me about their lovers who have left and their longing to look beautiful, but they have given up on the mirror in their lives, in favor of waiting to return to their home and land where they want to live and be loved.