• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 07

The Cost of Freedom

I pulled my hood up, as the Syrian desert wind whipped against my face. Two days passed with a few pieces of bread left, and very little water to spare.

“Sister, drink,” I insisted, and handed her the bottle.

Mahima hadn’t spoken since her husband died fighting for our cause; freedom. He was captured, tortured and his body burned unrecognizable. He was dropped in front of their house to show what happened to those who disobeyed. My sister was only able to identify him by his wedding ring. After hysterics, she went into a state of shock. As I watched her suffer, I was grateful I never married, and knew it was time for us to leave. I overheard a man in the street market talking about a boat heading for Europe. I eavesdropped carefully without drawing attention. I knew that was our only way out. We packed nothing and left with the clothes we had on, to avoid suspicion. I hid some bread and two bottles of water under my garments.

“We’re almost there,” I said huffing, the sun burning through my sandals. I felt sweat pouring down the nape of my neck. “Let’s rest a while, I said.”

“Remember when we were children and father used to take us to the market to buy fruit. He’d let us pick the biggest grapes and we’d eat some on the way home. He’d always say don’t tell your mother, but she knew when she saw some of the empty grape vines.” I caught a hint of a smile on Mahima’s face. She was my younger sister and all the family I had left. I was going to protect her no matter what. I valued education, which is why I didn’t marry, but the school I taught in was burned down by extremists and there wasn’t money to rebuild. Being the only family of Mahima, her husband was kind enough to provide me with an allowance, to live in a decent house, and have food on the table.


The Cost of Freedom

“Let’s get moving again,” I said forcing myself up off the sand.

Hours went by. Then I saw the sea and many people.

“Look Mahima! There’s the boat.” I took her hand, and although exhausted, we both ran to catch our ride to freedom.