GROWING UP IN DAMASCUS

GROWING UP IN DAMASCUS

My father was born in a little town in the Golan Heights. At that time the heights for the mostly belonged to Syria, with borders to Israel and Lebanon. When he was adult he was sent to Damascus for serving the army for four years. When he ended his army service and was ready to go home to the village, Israel occupied the Golan Heights in 1967 and later incorporated the area in 1981. That means he looked at himself as a refugee in his own country.
My mother came from the city of Hama and is the fourth city of Syria. She had family in Damascus that known my father and introduced them for each other. My father is a Catholic and my mother an orthodox Christian. They married and settled down in Damascus.
The city is mentioned as one of the world’s oldest cities with settlements for more than 6000 years back. It has always been an important city for trading between Asia and the Mediterranean. No one knows the city´s inhabitants because of the large migration into the city, but some believe there live around 3,5 to 5 million people in the city.

My father worked as a salesman, he imported luxury groceries as alcohol, tobacco and other things that were difficult to buy in Syria.
I am number two of six children; I have four sisters and one brother. Two of my sisters escaped to the Netherlands and settled down outside Amsterdam. Mine two other sisters and younger brother still lives in Damascus. In some time now the area around our flat has been bombed because of a military camp close by.

I went to a private school from first to sixth grade. There was a mixture of boys and girls. From seventh to twelfth grade I went to a public school with only boys, a mixture of Muslims and Christians. At that time I was small, thin and very shy and was what someone will call a bully victim among the other boys. In addition to be teased, beaten and kicked I experienced a lot of sexual approaches from the other boys, especially in high school. The sexual was not that serious, but was more like touching and feeling my body. Some times feeling my genitals.

At home I had a strained relationship to my father. I felt he was stricter to me than my brother. He beat me, some times by the hand, other times he used a stick to my body. Some times he tied me with a rope around my whole body so I could’t move. As I recognised his arguments for the strict behaviour, was mostly because he wanted me to study harder and not go out to play, as I wanted. His dream for me was to be a doctor, engineer, pharmacist or other professionals with a high status. I had at that time problems to concentrate because I felt more and more this attraction to other men. I didn´t understand when the boys at school admired the female teacher and talked about how sexy she was. I in the contrary looked at the male teacher, something I could not mention.

When I was at the end of my seventeenth, at the end of high school, something happened with my body. I grew, got stronger and my shoulder was unusual wide. At the same time I had trained to defend myself. Me as a bully victim ended and I was ready to build a new confidence.

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