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Syrians celebrate a wartime wedding in hospital scrubs

A hospital inundated with victims of war pauses a moment to celebrate the marriage of two of its staff.


Zakaria Mansour el Haj celebrates his wedding at a hospital in Aleppo Oct 27, 2012.

Sebastiano Tomada

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The floors of this hospital are often smeared with blood. Every day, the horrors of Syria's war play out in the lobby, as men, women, and children wounded or killed in the fierce fighting that has raged between the regime and the rebels in this city for three months come into the hospital.

But on this night, the smears of blood were cleaned from the floor, and instead of wailing, there was dancing. For a few hours, the hospital put aside sorrow and weariness to celebrate the wedding of two of its staff.

Zakaria Mansour El Hajji and his wife-to-be, Bushra, met at the hospital two months ago, and two weeks ago became engaged. On Monday, they will be married in a village outside Aleppo. Saturday night, the groom and a group of doctors, nurses, and staff feasted, danced, and sang during a few hours of relative calm, bringing smiles and laughter to a place often filled with sadness.

"We can't forget our pain, but we have to make our happiness, and we will keep looking for our happiness," said hospital receptionist Hassan Maksuma, as the groom's friends stripped him of his street clothes and dressed him in a new suit, following tradition, behind the desk in the lobby. Usually, Mr. Maksuma sits behind that same desk, watching the wounded and the dead flow into the hospital. "The happiest moments are the ones we make happy," he said, quoting a proverb.


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