Photo Of A Syrian Man Listening To Records In His Bombed-out Bedroom Is About Life, Not War

An image of a man listening to a gramophone in his bombed bedroom in Aleppo, Syria has been circulating around the internet. 

The photographer who captured this photo now sees why it has become viral. “I’m a war photographer and I’ve seen lots of atrocities. This one is different,” Eid said this week from his office in Beirut. The image shows the tragedy of war, but it also shows someone rising above it through the transcendent power of music. “It talks about life.”

The man in the picture is Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, who is 70 years old and is an avid collector of 1950’s vintage American cars. He inherited the two-tone 1957 Mercury Montclair, cherry red 1949 Hudson Commodore, canary yellow 1958 Chevrolet Apache truck and more than two dozen others from his father who was wealthy.

A team from AFP, including Eid, a correspondent and videographer, went back , earlier this month to Aleppo to find the man. The once rebel-held city had taken a beating when government forces regained control last year. The remaining Aleppo residents, all of whom seemed to know Anis, helped the team navigate through the disaster area to his house.

When Mohammed answered the door, Did was inspired by the man’s determination to rise above. “We didn’t think an old man like him would survive all that happened, especially in the last few weeks of the battle of Aleppo,” Eid said.

The man welcomed the reporters like old friends and took them into his garden that was filled with car parts. The cars on the block are now damaged, leaving them as shattered remains of what they used to be. The top of Anis’ home is demolished, but within the debris is a lifeline – a gramophone that doesn't need electricity to work. 

Anis admires his cars, like he admires his music: the golden oldies of the 1950’s. When he was questioned about the functioning ability of the machine, he turned it on and his favorite Syrian singer Mohamed Did al-Din played.

When he turned it on, he grabbed his taped-pipe and said “I cannot listen to my music without smoking my pipe,” he told the reporters. Then Anis entered into a state of meditation, Eid said.“He forgot about us for a while. When I saw that, I told the others to leave. I took the pictures from the entrance of the room.”

It took some time for him to wake up from his relaxed state. He was so captivated by the idea of bringing everything back to its former glory. 

“‘I can start back from zero. I’m willing to rebuild my house, factory and cars,’” he told them, Eid recalled. “‘Nothing will break me or take me down or force me to surrender. Keep your spirits high no matter what.’”

Eid said he left feeling happy and inspired. AFP may visit the man in another year to check on how he’s doing. “I’ll make sure to tell him what an inspiration he has been to thousands of people.”

Anis and his unique cars were in 2016 video by Karam al-Masri of the Agency France-Presse:

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Photo Of A Syrian Man Listening To Records In His Bombed-out Bedroom Is About Life, Not War Photo Of A Syrian Man Listening To Records In His Bombed-out Bedroom Is About Life, Not War Reviewed by Jamm Real on 19:29:00 Rating: 5
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