Tarek looked like someone overpowered by an urgent lust when he surprised me with a bored, commanding lilt: “I want a story.” Tarek knows nothing about the instructions of the facility sheltering the displaced in Damascus Countryside. The instructions prohibit volunteers from being exposed to the private details of the children. Tarek, who knows nothing about this, startled me with another demand: “I want a story that does not include war.”
The sheltering centre – and I don’t know which reference they draw their instructions from - ordered us to distract children from their ordeals by activities and playing during the day while saying nothing about the children’s night blues. The centre did not even consider the possibility of a child demanding to hear a story in the afternoon, ignoring our jocular noise as we attempt to dig for some happiness and serenity in a pile of blood and horror.