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Monday, September 03, 2012


I was a war correspondent at Kosovo when I met her for the first time. The first thing I noticed about her was that she had kind eyes and a very comforting calmness about her; the way she spoke to those who had to live through the horrors of war. She empathized with their suffering and tried her best to bring out their stories for the world to hear. It was not long before we got married. I was her colleague and husband but we respected each other’s decisions as adults, never infringing upon the professional territory of the other. I always considered her a better reporter, though she was several years younger to me. Her sensitiveness to war and suffering was not vitiated by age.

Then she got posted in Syria. I knew it was nothing like the war zones we had covered before. Drones dropped bombs on residential buildings without qualms. Soldiers who refused to open fire on civilians were executed by the Syrian Army deployed by the government. The civilians and army defectors unified and fought under the ‘Free Syrian Army’. She moved around with the help of the insurgents, doing what she best did- reporting stories of innocent people whose lives were caught up in conflicts.

I moved in with her and we heard reports of journalists dying in the field: American reporter Marie Colvin, award-winning French photographer Remi Ochlik , French television journalist Gilles Jacquier. No matter whose side you were reporting from, there was no safety. I feared for my life and hers too when the journalist next door to our hotel room was fatally wounded by a gunshot.

We were traveling to report shootings in Aleppo, in northwestern Syria, 310 kms from Damascus. We saw another group in army fatigues moving across the street and I thought they were from Free Syrian Army . But suddenly, someone screamed and I heard gunshots. I moved to my left and took shelter behind the broken walls of a dilapidated building. After an hour, I managed to crawl out and reached my hotel. I waited for her to arrive too, but she did not. Someone mentioned seeing her in the hospital. I rushed where she was and saw her body on a stretcher. Her hair and trousers were red. I saw where the bullets had entered and exited through her neck and right leg. I asked her if she had been in pain, if she had looked for me. But she said nothing. Our government helped me to take back her body to our country where our families arranged for a funeral.

We had talked about this before- living under the constant possibility of death- and she had told me if she were to die before me, she would come back to our house and move the statue we had bought together for our garden. I watched it every day while I was at home. But time has come for me to return to work, and my will has not been broken yet. I will do what she would have wanted me to do: go back to Syria to report the unheard stories of human plight.

(incomplete draft)

1 comment:

sangram said...

A very heart wrenching story - really really well written. I bow down to all those reporters/journalists who have advertently taken this kind of risk - how else do we come to know the horrendous face of this planet earth? Atrocities of unimaginable and terrifying scope that occur in wartime are captured through the lens of a reporter and there are still those brave men and women who are undeterred in their single objective of spreading news to the millions.