Syrian detainees, arrested for participation in protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, walk to sign their release papers at the Damascus police leadership building, July 11, 2012.
“Prison is for real men” is an old saying we have in Syria, and one that I kept repeating to myself as I paced anxiously back and forth across my small, dingy cell in an almost hypnotic trance of meditation. Time seemed to melt and mold in that dungeon; it was an abstract entity that only existed in the world of mortal men as they went about their normal lives and daily routines. For us, the condemned and the damned, time had no meaning. The only way we measured it was in intervals of going to the interrogation room or bathroom breaks. Everything else was a fuzzy haze of being in a cell and sometimes out of it. It was a room where time stood still yet slowly oozed away. Yes, this was the edge of madness, the edge of the abyss, and I was right there on the brink.
Yeah, it’ll be alright, I thought. This is a character-building experience. I’ll emerge wiser and none the worse for wear. Occasionally, however, a terrifying thought would creep into my mind, interrupting my meditative internal monologues: “Except this kind of prison isn’t for men. It’s for animals, and it’s run by animals, too.”