Not a Fly on the Wall

Not a Fly on the Wall

The roof is as high as a minaret. Through my weary, damp eyes, I look around myself. A room just wide enough to hold two people in it, a mud jar partially filled with water in the corner and light streaming through tiny holes on the eastern wall. As my puffy eyes scan the room and settle on the wall, I notice a fly tripping around. My glance follows her as she hops from one spot to another. She doesn’t seem to get tired, but my fatigued eyes close in a mild clip, pus seeping out from the bruise under my left eye.

I may have been here for the last two days, but it seems like an eternity. Ammi had taught me to “be content wherever you are, Aasiah”. This, for sure,  would not have been a consideration, every time she admonished me for being the girl “who ran in the streets”, or when I joined the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ)*. 

A loud shrill from a barrack close by breaks my reverie. Is it Ruqaih or perhaps, Baraam? They were brought in with me, and kept secluded in similar barracks. The muffled laments in the air soon turn into war cries in my head. Ruqaih, it is, perhaps. She was always more vocal-the loudest, in fact. I chuckle at the thought as my mind drifts to our last altercation with the black brigade of the ISIL (The Islamic State) in Manbij*. She roared, and we followed her, chasing them out with all the might that we could muster. 

Until all I could remember was waking up in this barrack; my jaw cracked by the blow of the gun’s butt, and hands tied behind my back with my shirt. My body is mangled beyond recognition. The scars on my body, the deep slashes on my arms and legs, bear testimony of the violation and violence meted out to me. My veins throbbing beneath my skin pulsate. The rush of blood to and from my brain makes me nauseous. Puss and blood continue to ooze out of my bruises and cuts. The stink of piss and semen on my pants is revolting.

The fly finds a spot to humour itself and rests on my chin, feeding on the dried blood upon a gash. I force my facial muscles to exhibit some reflex so I can shoo it away. With all my energy leaching out from my body, any movement exhorts agony. The jaw bone crackles, making me moan in pain again. And then I sense a tiny itch on my chin. That’s a sensation. Looks like my reflexes are returning. This time it’s taken a tad longer. 

I hear the mu’addin* call out for ṣalāt*. It is time. In a few minutes, the door creaks open as I see the shadow emerge on the eastern wall, getting bigger. The fly makes a bolt upon chance. I smile to myself. Battered and bashed, I lie here, my battle continues.

Author’s Note:
Many Syrian women of Kurdish clans have become prey to the atrocities by ISIL, and so forces have been established to safeguard them. YPJ, established in 2013, is such an outfit that employs women to protect women and children from genocide or sexual slavery at the hands of ISIL.
Read more on YPJ here:

*Manbij- Manbij is a city in the northeast of Aleppo Governorate in northern Syria.
* mu’addin– muezzin
* ṣalāt– call for prayer

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