Adnan Farmelli

Produced by: Sharq.Org
Part of the Curated Collection: Syrian Histories,
Original Interview Length:
Interview Location: Lebanon
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“I am determined to build a solid future for myself, to be successful. I won’t allow my health to stop me from taking care of my mother. Life will go on, and my reward will come in heaven.”

Adnan Farmelli’s childhood was greatly impacted by his parents’ separation. Their constant fighting was compounded by his mother’s bad health, and Adnan and his sisters were sent off to live with their grandmother.

Adnan couldn’t get used to the idea of living apart from his mother, and would question his grandmother about her incessantly. His grandmother tried to soothe him with her words and provide him with all the love he lacked.

Adnan’s father remarried at the behest of everyone around him, who kept insisting it would be better for him to find a wife who might care for his children, to help alleviate the burden on his aging mother. Adnan and his sisters returned to live with his father and the whole family moved to Damascus because of his father’s work. His stepmother treated them kindly, and Adnan was so young he came to believe that she was in fact his mother. But his relatives disabused him of that idea, showing him photos of his real mother, and Adnan began asking his father to tell him the truth. It came as a shock to Adnan when his father confirmed that his stepmother was not in fact his biological mother.

When Adnan was twelve, the family moved back to their village in Homs. Adnan expressed his desire to meet his mother, and his father finally agreed to allow him to go meet her in Lebanon, accompanied by his grandmother. Adnan took along a gift he had picked out for her and some letters he had written, hoping to give them to her when they met.

His excitement proved short-lived, however, as his maternal grandfather in Lebanon refused the idea of the visit, citing his mother’s extreme ill health. Adnan was crushed and retreated into himself, spending all his time going through photos of his mother. Finally, he decided to accept the situation and wait for a better time to be able to meet her.

Soon afterward, Adnan was in a serious car accident, and spent over two months recovering in the hospital. He had a number of surgeries to repair his severely broken bones, but learned that he would always be partially paralyzed.

Adnan’s father was greatly affected by what happened to his son, but he tried to console the boy, hiding the truth that Adnan would never be able to walk again. He took his son to Lebanon, hoping to find some sort of treatment or cure, and though he did have a few more surgeries, none of them led to the longed-for result.

When Adnan finally learned that he would never walk again, he withdrew into himself and stopped wanting to see anyone. He couldn’t stop thinking how if he were to ever see his mother again, it would be in a wheelchair, and he hated the pity in people’s eyes when they looked at him. But his father insisted that he continue his education—at that point, Adnan had been away from school for a whole year. So little by little, Adnan began to reintegrate with the world around him, hoping that he might yet someday go back to his normal life and find a way to walk again.

Adnan’s father heard about a young man who had suffered the same sort of paralysis as Adnan, but had managed to improve with the help of a doctor from Lebanon. Adnan’s father got in contact with the doctor who agreed to take on the case after Adnan had undergone the necessary tests. Adnan would have another operation, even though the likelihood of his making a recovery was quite low, and the cost of the surgery was high.

Adnan contacted his maternal grandfather, hoping he might be allowed to see his mother before the surgery. Once more, his grandfather refused.

After the surgery and following a long period of convalescence, there was still no improvement in Adnan’s situation. He decided to just give up: he was so tired of feeling helpless and of all his relatives doting on him constantly, especially his father and grandmother.

During the initial months following his surgery, Adnan felt consumed with hate against the driver who had caused the car accident, who he felt was responsible for his current situation. It was an exhausting way to live; but somehow, he made his peace with the fact that everything that happened was due to God’s will. He decided he would indeed turn his attention back to school and slowly go back to resuming his normal life. None of this, however, had any effect on the desire he still had to see his mother, even going so far as standing near her house to watch her from afar.

After some relatives appealed on his behalf, Adnan’s grandfather finally agreed to let him see his mother. When he arrived, he found her health so far gone that she was bedridden and completely unable to remember him, despite his attempts to jog her memory. Adnan did get to meet his maternal grandmother and aunts, who welcomed him with warmth and happy tears. His grandfather allowed him to come for another visit a week later and to bring his sisters, but their mother didn’t recognize them either.

Adnan thinks that meeting his real mother, despite her ill health, was better for him than continuing to labor under an illusion for the rest of his life.

“I am determined to build a solid future for myself, to be successful,” he says. “I won’t allow my health to stop me from taking care of my mother. Life will go on, and my reward will come in heaven.”