The Squealing Sound Of A Baby Crying / by Shayanne Gal

I hear the squealing sound of a baby crying. Heavy hitting, from deep in the chest, these infant screams echo in my perimeter – but there is no external response. No one comes out from behind his or her plastic tarps; no one emerges in shock or alarm. As my heart escalates its thumping, I run from tent to tent, climbing under make-shift rope clothing lines and trotting around UNHCR cracked water buckets, missing piles of trash and collected puddles of mud along the way. Finally, I reach this scene. From behind, I see a stroller sitting amidst a line of tents at Ritsona Refugee camp – but as I turn towards the front, I see an infant, about 2 months old, wailing at the top of her lungs. I stand there for a moment, in a bit of shock, figuring out how to console this baby, looking for her guardian or for someone to assist - and simultaneously, I wonder to myself: If I’ve heard so many babies cry in my lifetime, why does this one cry sound harsher, deeper, and more striking than ever before?

Is it because this cry is the cry of her mother, living and solely supporting 6 children on her own at a refugee camp?

Is it because this is the cry of her sister, playing with dolls in her tent, still harping on the fear of a rat entering her ad-hoc home? Still hoping that today will be the day that she can return to school and be a “normal” child again?

Is it because this is the cry of her brother, trying to play the “man” of the house, while his father figure lays dead in a pile of rubble where their old neighborhood used to stand?

Is it because this is the cry of the people of Syria, mercilessly stripped from their homes, denied of their freedoms, and made prisoners of their own existence?