The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Mohammed Alfassa, or Amadeus Matthias, the Syrian, Written by Himself.

This is an excerpt from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Mohammed Alfassa, or Amadeus Matthias, the Syrian, Written by Himself:

I walked beside my mother and sister in an alleyway that I grew beside playing ball, no longer familiar to my precious memories, by collapsed houses and overwhelming rubble accumulation. Today, I could no longer support the white-helmets, those who rushed urgently to the dire need of air-strike afflicted individuals, because I must attend to my mother and sister who grow increasingly frail in the absence of once copious street vendors bustling the streets endorsing a variety of vegetable and scrumptious meats. We search for a roaming trader, to disperse his valuable consumables, but we receive nothing but looks of consternation amongst waves of individuals in the city of Aleppo. I encounter a child not yet of five years who in an exchange of optic conversation, delivered to me a countenance of dejection and confusion. My soul continually grows weary, as I discover corpse after corpse of unidentified disfigured remains, bloodied and maimed by relentless ballistic destruction. We finally come across a luscious patch of grass and unravel a bundle of newspaper, boiling the conjunction into a warm porridge. The twilight shade engulfs the firmament, and we set our blankets on a bed of rock and pray for the sun to rise tomorrow.

The sun had yet to rise, but an incineration of foul venom suffocated me and terminated my slumber. I gasped for air and inhaled a deep dosage of the most painful breath I had ever experienced. I glanced to my side and witnessed a heart-wrenching scene of my sister grimacing in agony. I turned to my mother whose condition appeared far more dreadful as she winced an unconscious pain. I helped my sister up as she stumbled to keep her balance, and I carried my mother as we proceeded to a walk a path of chaos. Distant shrieks of agony and visible sights of convulsing children of a mixture of red, blue, and yellow complexion beside contorted figures in unimaginable presentation, the devil’s interpretation of yoga, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable. My mother shook her head and waved us ahead a mixture of white and yellow froth oozed from her mouth. My sister and I carried on, as tears began to befall my eyes incessantly before I came across a overpacked caravan of half-dead children and groaning parents. I began to hope for moments for an end to my miseries, but I glanced over at my sister and held on to my last bit of hope.

O, ye fanatic terrorists! Might as you would men should do unto you? Is it not enough that we are torn from our country and friend to suffer for your lust of power? Must every tender feeling be likewise sacrificed to your bloodlust? Why are children to lose their parents, parents their children, brothers their sisters or husbands their wives? Surely this is a new refinement in cruelty, which has no advantage to atone for it, thus aggravates distress, and adds fresh horrors even to the wretchedness of war.

To my dear readers,

I choose to emulate Oladauh Equiano’s captivity narrative in a contemporary manner of entirely different circumstances. I wanted to exemplify the situation of the Syrian civil war and specifically showcase the recent usage of sarin gas attacks by using Equiano’s  tale to relate notions of grievance and suffering. Honestly, I have not spent enough time keeping up with the crisis every day, and I often forget the disparity of our living situations in the U.S. and the horrific scene in Syria. I think about refugees in the past, and I feel intertwined with their fates, as I am practically a refugee product of a seemingly oppressive communist regime during the Vietnam War. The United States is a nation of immigrants and has offered a hand for those in critical need, but in the 21st century’s bloodiest conflict, the United States has hardly stepped up to the plate that they once have. In researching for this creative writing project, I saw some incredibly graphic images and unbelievable scenes of destruction. I can’t possibly imagine how people continue to exist in this current state of affairs, but I saw a good deal of footage of people persevering and aiding each other in such a disastrous scene. I used actual narratives of those experiencing the crisis to reinforce my writing. The images of children who were under ten made me ruminate of their lives, as all they have seen is death and destruction. I tried to emulate Oladauh Equiano’s style which is not as difficult as some of the other readings assigned in this class, but some of his vocabulary is intense and somewhat antiquated, nonetheless, I incorporated some of this older vocabulary.  The last paragraph is very identical, and nearly a quotation of from Oladauh Equiano’s novel, that seems to be a call to those who possess the power, questioning their ethics. Although slavery and the situation of war in Syria are completely different scenarios, I felt that Oladauh Equiano best captured emotion-invoking imagery, and I felt it would be the best representation of the current state of affairs. I thought heavily about the prospects of journalism after working on this creative project, something I’ve considered since I was young. Thanks for reading.

Thomas Pham



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