Paratalk or Torque is where I take a paragraph, mostly at random, and talk about it however I wish. It’s an old column I’ve revived. It has fairly broad scope and could go on for ages. Let me know if you get bored, I may not listen though.
Today’s paragraph is from The Book Collectors of Daraya by Delphine Minoui. The book is about a band of Syrian rebels who rescue books and then educate themselves by reading and teaching each other the things they know. It is a story both uplifting and incredibly sad. I’ve tried not to use the first paragraph because it illustrates war but when I flip through the pages I seem to only settle on pages illustrating the war. If you choose to leave now I will understand.
This crucial delivery was incredibly risky. Accessing the besieged suburb required crossing the regime’s checkpoints, the passing through Moadamiya before rushing through the last access point into Daraya. This mile-long agricultural zone separating the two cities is in the crosshairs of the regime’s soldiers, who can shoot at any moment from their mountain military base. As happens often in war zones, where women are as invisible as they are effective, a Syrian woman served as “smuggler.” The camera hidden beneath her veil, she undertook the night passage on a deadly road where so many others had fallen. I can only imagine her thin silhouette weaving between the trees, furtively crossing swaths of grapevines ad olive fields. Shadi has never see her, but he owes her a great deal.
I found this paragraph very impactful. It illustrates the danger you can find during war time while showing that this could very well be my home town. The word ‘suburb’ places it very firmly in a city. This is not in some distant place where there are few people, this is in a city…a suburb…a place where people live.
But this is not just in a city, it’s an agricultural belt between two cities. The grapevines and olive trees are very evocative to me of much of the Middle East, and also some Mediterranean countries. I can almost see the rows of plants, getting ready for the next part of the growing cycle.
Many times I’ve read about children being used as couriers during times of war. Apparently they thought children wouldn’t be noticed, they’re small, they can flit through places and get into places adults might not consider. But in this war, in Syria, they used women. I’ve noticed this in Judaism as well, it’s just a little more apparent as the woman who smuggled the camera was wearing a veil. But I’ve been overlooked in my religion because I’m female, not so often now because I’m at a synagogue that treats people equally, but before I joined this congregation I definitely felt overlooked for being female. If I’d worn the right clothes I could have done as this lady and just walked casually through not being seen.
I found this book hard to read because it’s about a war, one happening only in the last few years. But I found it absolutely fascinating because I sit here in perfect safety, and I find it hard to understand how people can keep going through the hardest of times and just do normal stuff. In this case the normal stuff is reading and learning, but also, just living. I fully recommend this book if you think you can handle the terrors of war. In case you wish to buy it here is a good link.