Christoph Reuter reports: Every day, children from the Salaheddin district of Aleppo meet at the local playground. They play war as the real one rages just a few meters away. But the graves are slowly encroaching.
Majid, what are you doing? “I’m watering mommy.” Majid drags a large, blue bucket — so full that he can hardly carry it — across the withered grass. But why are you watering your mother?
The 13-year-old looks puzzled, as though it were the kind of idiotic question that only outsiders might ask. “Because she’s right here,” he says and pours the water onto a mound surrounded by a few stones meant to mark the site as a grave. An old pine tree offers a bit of shade, but so far, nothing seems to have taken root at the place where Majid’s mother is buried. “I have to water it. Then something will grow for sure,” he says with a steady voice as he heads back to refill his bucket.
Majid’s mother died in the summer, but nobody in the family had enough money for a proper gravestone or even a border for the site. She died “because of her heart,” Majid says “in her mid-30s.” He can’t be more precise than that; nobody in Aleppo really asks anymore why someone is dead. Majid drags a third bucket-full to the grave, as though seeking to atone for something he played no part in, as if he could score a tiny victory against all the dying. [Continue reading…]