The two men sat on plastic chairs in front of a white tent in the southern Turkish town of Antakya.
Now he keeps constant vigil over his wife at a hospital in Antakya.
Malik Balian thinks he has as good an idea as anyone about the number of Syrians in Antakya these days.
We met in Antakya and headed toward the Syrian border in Kilis, Turkey, the northernmost border crossing.
Rumors of big anti-Syrian protests, meanwhile, have become a constant in Antakya of late.
Like most Antakya residents, Balian is Alawite, hailing from the same religious sect as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
They went through four homes in Antakya in about as many days until a Syrian woman named Huda Edrees volunteered.
In the process, Antakya and the surrounding border area has come to feel like a buzzing hub for the rebel cause.
On Tuesday, the governor of Hatay and mayor of Antakya gave a joint news conference that put the same message across.
Antakya has become a nerve center for the uprising against Assad.