Leila had a little blue dress. Leila’s dress was covered in white-blue flowers, and red stains. The day I met Leila I could imagine her smile and the lines on both sides of her cheeks announcing joy, but when I first saw Leila her face was not there. Where could it be? Under this war’s rubble or the one over there. The war and the rubbles stole Leila’s brown eyes, they’ve escaped. I dream of Leila every night. In my dreams I ask Leila if she was okay. Last time Leila’s voice was heard was before the sky rained mortars and the roof caved. I asked again while Leila was still between the man’s arms. Are you okay? Leila called the man baba. Baba I never heard her say. Leila stood facing me like a broken doll hung on a wall. She lost her head when the roof came tumbling stealing Leila’s face leaving behind a helpless body with fingers stretched out to be held and pulled away. I can still hear the man’s voice ringing over and over calling Leila. He screams. He’s screaming. He screamed. Where is Leila? he gained the strength of the world when he saw her fingers dug deep into dust, he lifted the rock looking for a small body, untouched, unbothered, holy. He lifted her like a cub and turned her to the world.
Where is her head?
Leila was a victim of the Syrian war. Channel 1 on the Syrian TV when showing a footage of the war, they never warned the viewers nor blurred graphic images of the victims affected by bombing. One vivid memory engraved in my brain was of a little girl I’m going to call her Leila. The first time I met Leila on TV, she was carried by her father, headless. Her body was hanging between his arm guilty of nothing but childhood and a handful of memories. Her father stood facing the camera, announcing himself to the world through his daughter’s body. He stood there tears in his eyes, voice shaking screaming at the world. He carried her like Simba announcing the queen of childhood’s misery. He looked right at me, nothing between us but a scream. He stood there asking me why am I standing here, breathing, speaking, crying, watching while his little girl Leila lost her head. Since the day I met Leila, she never failed to visit me, night after night Leila haunted me, and even though I never saw her face, I knew she visited me over and over so I can tell the world her story, because Leila cannot.
Nour A.G. is a Middle Eastern Writer, activist, and educator, born and raised in Damascus, Syria. She has received a BA in English Literature at The University of Texas at Austin and pursuing an MFA in poetry at Texas State University. Her poetry and essay have appeared in Poetry Magazine, Dame Magazine, So To Speak journal, Mizna Literary Journal, Porter House Review and Echo Literary Magazine.
Nour writes in hope of changing the Western view of the Middle East and the Arabic language that is often viewed as inimical. She also writes about Social Justice, migrant identity and what it means to be an immigrant in an unwelcome place, and finally she writes about feminism and what it means to be a feminist Middle Eastern woman.