I always loved streets where all the houses were different. When all the houses were the same I couldn’t help but imagine that the people inside them were all the same too, living the same lives, with the same dreams, the same passions. Boring. Bland.
When the houses were different I imagined the people were different. Overgrown gardens and blacked out windows concealed mysterious occupants. Quirky designs and ostentatious colours revealed the unique minds that lived there. Huge mansions with gleaming cars parked outside were the product of financial success and years of work.
In Aleppo the streets were all the same, and they were all different.
The first house I passed had been completely reduced to rubble. The next one was half rubble merging with the first, but half the frame still stood. After this came a house where the front had collapsed and the roof had slumped down. Further on there was a house where someone had stacked sand bags in the gaping doorway and covered the missing windows with tarps. Then there was the house riddled with bullet holes so that it looked more like a pumice stone than a home. There was the house where a balcony stood resolute while all the others on the block had been destroyed.
They were all different. But they all bore scars just the same.
The people of Aleppo were all the same too. They all knew the same pain. But they were all different. They had different jobs, different passions, different dreams, and the same hope for peace, just as they did in Guernica in 1937, in London in 1940, in Stalingrad in 1942, in Hiroshima in 1945, in Hue in 1968, in Sarajevo in 1995, in Baghdad in 2003. Always different, but always the same.