‘The Tyrant’ by Julia Kwiatkowska, Year 9, Thomas Clarkson Academy

Running. I’m always running, but freedom is a long way off. It appears to be rushing away from me and will not stop for anyone. Not for the defenceless. Not for the oppressed. The people who are subject to tyranny. Not for anyone, because those who need freedom the most are denied it by those who believe they have control over it. It is absurd that people who have already won freedom are gluttonous for more, while there is hardly enough for everyone. Sometimes freedom is a bird flying over borders that the eye cannot see, and other times it is the wind blowing everywhere with no rules to define it; regiments and curfews. It is the endless sea.

I wish I was a bird, the wind, or the sea because then I wouldn’t have to fight like what appears to be impossible to beat. What happened to generosity? What has become of humanity?  Is the world being ruled by cruelty? There are moments when I pretend to live in another universe, where everything counts, and right now this is nothing more than a game of Truth or Dare. I’m hoping that one day I’ll fall asleep and wake up to find that this is all a figment of my imagination. There is no such thing as war, sorrow, or misery.

Instead, I was born into terror, violence, and fear, the fear of approaching death or, worse, the fear of being captured, since we knew those taken prisoner were tortured without compassion. Bashar al-Assad and his dictatorship are brutal and vicious, leaving many victims like me to struggle for freedom and safety. Even though my temporary umbrella was the ‘Free Syrian Army,’ I was not a fan of violence. That may make me appear weak or foolish, but I don’t want to fall to someone else’s level; I want to change it, to help them. If Ommi were still alive, she’d say something like that…

We’ve been wandering through the desert for what seems like months, looking for a place to rest. My family who did not survive will always be a part of me because I know I will never be able to return. Home. Home, a place that appears to be permanently ingrained in my mind, as it is only my cherished home’s memories that keep me alive. I was assured that there is yet hope. On the other hand, there is hope for everyone they said. All we have is hope until we make the dreaded crossing.