Omar Gibai / July 23, 2014

Mr. President Eats Chocolate

President Bashar al-Assad's regime is responsible for terrible crimes against Syrian people. But despite those crimes, some Syrians can still find a place for humour as they imagine his life today - so far removed from the suffering he has inflicted on his nation.

The place: Mr. President’s chambers, where he has become a painter.

The time: Tonight.

Mr. President is busy drawing a painting we can’t see. There are many colors on the table, and a Nutella jar. Every now and then, Mr. President takes a spoonful of Nutella to give him back some of the energy he has spent painting. While “Me” is moving back and forth, thinking, in the room.

Me: You shouldn’t have spoken that much about false heroism and bullies.

Mr. President (moving away from his painting giving it a thorough look): Why? Wasn’t it funny?!

Me: Maybe, but it made me feel bitter.

(Mr President takes a spoonful of Nutella then continues with his painting)

Mr. President: Why?

Me: I remembered the time Israel bombed our radar in Dahr Al Bidar in 2001.

(Mr. President pauses his painting for a while, trying to remember)

Mr. President: When was that?

Me: April 16th 2001.

Mr. President (surprised): Oh!! Why did no one tell me?!

Me: It went quite viral.

Mr. President (resumes painting): But this story is quite old, it was in 2001.

Me: Or how we withdrew from Lebanon… Even the Americans were surprised by the speed with which we withdrew.

Mr. President (looking happy): Ha ha, that’s true, we surprised them, didn’t we? Ha ha, would you like some Nutella?

Me: I told you I feel bitter.

Mr. President: But this story is also old.

Me: And the bombing of The Scientific Research Centre in Jemrayah?

Mr. President (frowning while he’s still drawing): Come on, what do we have to do with Jemraya? Let Jemraya take care of Jemraya.

(he turns his back and moves to a lecturer’s position)

Mr. President: Syrian external policy is based on staying out of the business of other neighbouring countries, this is what Waleed [External Affairs Minister] has told me.

(He eats another spoonful of Nutella and continue painting)

Me: Jemraya sir, is a place located across from your presidential palace.

(Mr. President astoundingly stops drawing)

Mr. President: Really?!!! Waleed hasn’t mentioned anything about it. (Goes back to painting) But I’m sure he’s holding the right to respond somewhere.

Me: And chemical weapons?

Mr. President (throwing his paint brush on the ground in anger): What about chemical weapons? You’d want us to use them, again? Have mercy! (He heads towards the Nutella jar angrily eating six spoonfuls)

Me: We could have sold them maybe, perhaps made detergents out of them..I don’t know..But I don’t think it was becoming of you, I mean Obama sneezed and you just gave him all of our weapons. (Mr. President goes back to drawing)

Me: What are you drawing?

Mr. President: I’ll show it to you once I finish.


Me: Anyhow, it’s not the “false heroism and bullies” thing that made me feel bitter.

Mr. President: Then what?

Me: I don’t want you to get upset, but there’s something you said in your speech that has really annoyed me… It felt personal, I mean, I felt it was directed right towards me.

(Mr. President stops drawing)

Mr. President (in a sympathizing tone): Oh..You’re really upset with me?! Why?! What was it?

Mr. President (offering “me” Nutella): Take a lick.

Me: No, thank you… When you said that the country has cleaned itself by itself.

(Mr. President leans his ass on the table, and starts eating his Nutella quietly)

Mr. President: Ok, why did you feel it was personal? What’s in it for you? I was talking about flunkies, about conspiracies, about…

Me: Do you know I’m one of those who fled the country?

(Mr. President’s brows start to rise – clearly he doesn’t know that “Me” was one of those who fled)

Me: Would you spare me this conspiracy talk, and all your arguments about non-violent vs armed revolution, Erdogan and unknown gangs. I don’t want you to think that I’m trying to raise any patriotic concerns here, no… I told you it’s personal, I was quite annoyed.

Mr. President: Why?

Me: Because it’s me, the one you accused of being a piece of dirt you could cleanse the country of, who has served your army for about four years. Four years, the world was turning while I was standing still.

Mr. President: But…

Me (interrupting): In those four years I have worked as a guard, standing day and night, winter and summer, only to protect your presidential image. I was cold and hungry, I slept on the floor, spent a whole year without seeing my daughter, just to see Your Excellency’s image.

Mr. President: But..

Me: Four years, two of them were spent without one single vacation, without any aspiration except Your Excellency’s satisfaction. Obama sneezed, so we went on alert, and I went on alert with them, for one single reason: because mortar shells are more bearable than Tomahawks. I’m someone who has never fired a bullet in his entire life. Even when I was in the military boot camp, when we had to learn shooting, I subordinated the rules. But for you I carried my Kalashnikov, and I said to myself, at least I would be standing in the face of imperialism, in the face of America, of Israel, I won’t let them pass unless it were over my dead body… Well, this is what would have happened, they would have passed over my dead body. In the end, you simply imprisoned me for meeting a foreign journalist.

Mr. President: But…

Me (interrupting): Stop saying but, you pushed me into losing all faith in Syria, in homeland, and citizenship, with every tear there is in the world. Then you simply say that I’m a piece of dirt?!! (“I” sit down, tired and sad)

Mr. President: But I feel that you did nothing but your duty.


Me: You don’t feel anything.


Mr. President: Would you eat some Nutella?

Me (understanding that it’s useless to continue the conversation): What were you drawing?

Mr. President (putting his Nutella jar on the table, running with childish joy to hold his painting): I was painting Syria, look.

(Mr. President holds his painting for “Me” and the rest of the audience to see)

Me: Sir, Syria does not wear Ray-Bans.


Read the original here.