We heard the news where you are; war and rumours of war.
It’s not far, just across the border. Bad news travels fast.
They say little is left of all your ancient cities.
Palmyra razed! Even Alexander didn’t manage that.
Such senseless destruction! Now just dust and rubble.
You must be devastated.
Here our men are peaceful. We work the land together,
keep busy tending our fields, our livestock,
mending our mud-brick houses,
keeping our floors well swept. Sounds boring, but it’s worthwhile.
I can’t imagine fighting. Over what? You didn’t say.
We are peace loving people, men and women working together.
Meeting on the roof terraces above our houses,
we linger in the evenings, podding beans, grinding millet, telling stories – you know –
and we are content. We talk often of the news where you are.
It’s always bad. We pity you.
We hear of things that we don’t understand: explosives, bombs and guns. What are these things?
No, don’t explain; we wouldn’t know about them. Wouldn’t want to.
Anyway, we hope you manage to find some safety, shelter, food, despite the difficulties.
Can you still buy bread? And does the camel train still stop outside the town?
Someone should tell the men not to go destroying everything
or there’ll be nothing left for future generations.
Which reminds me, are your children well? And how’s Faridah?