By Rame Sharaf
It doesn’t make sense to me… I’m still in Yemen while it’s at the verge of war, but all I can say is I’m not scared, I actually panic when the distant bombs, war planes and guns go silent. The thuds and booms literally became the sound track of my life and of so many others. I have to admit though that I do get a bit worried because I know that a relative or friend is closer to them than I, and I know that unlike me, they must be very scared, or even terrified. At the beginning, they said it would end but 2 months into the violent events, I knew this wasn’t going to end, not that fast at least. Some people would make jokes and say I should get used to it; after all, I was born during the 1994 war. I’d laugh and joke along, but in the back of all our heads we all know that it was not funny at all, it was sad, very sad.
BOOM! I jumped out of bed, startled. I was about to scream at whoever knocked so hard on my door, when I heard heavy gunfire. I then realized it wasn’t a knock at all. I clumsily got out of my bed, and tripped over a few of my sisters’ toys while cursing silently. I rushed downstairs, and sure enough aunty Salwa was awake, obviously she heard what I heard.
“Auntie, what was the sound?” I asked with my sleepy voice, already knowing the answer but asking anyway, hoping she would dismiss it and say it was just a car backfire. I could see she was worried, but she said in a loud and calming voice “It’s just those bastards sweetie, go wake up your mom and brothers and tell them to come and sleep downstairs.”
I ran as fast as I could and knocked onto my mom’s door, she already had sheets and was already going downstairs. An hour later, we were all downstairs in the little hall with our sheets and pillows. The kids seemed exited but anxious, not fully understanding what was happening.
“SLUMBER PARTY!” my sister, Jenna, shrieked when she saw her cousin already tucked in, right beside the little corner where her sheets laid. I smiled, wishing we all could be as excited about this little gathering as Jenna.
Eight days of constant bombings, shooting and battles between the Al-Ahmar clan and Ali Abdallah Saleh’s army. Eight days of slumber parties downstairs. Eight days of innocent people dying. EIGHT DAYS. It felt like a whole year. We weren’t allowed outside. One of our neighbors got hit by cannons, and others got bullets through their windows. The family’s close friend died along with his entire family while trying to flee; a cannon landed right onto their car. As if the deaths of so many loved ones weren’t enough, gasoline was hard to find, gas and water were even harder, and electricity was off for days. If we were lucky, it would come on for an hour or two. The more fortunate ones had generators but it was still hard. Prices soared to a ridiculous amount. Even Internet and phone connections were awful. We made it but many didn’t. The poor started going back to their villages, the richest left to neighboring Arab countries, such as Dubai and Saudia Arabia, while foreign ambassadors went back to their safe and peaceful countries.
Despite all this, there was a good side to this situation. I realized that the lack of electricity, television, Internet and phone, made our family closer than ever. We would sit in the dark all night long and talk about everything and anything, we would laugh and joke, play board games under the candle light and listen to the adults childhood adventures, ask them about history, and politics. We would even curse together at the sometimes too close shell that landed, and then one of us would quickly change the subject before the kids notice.
In the afternoons, we women would all drink tea with biscuits and talk about politics most of the time, while the men were in the other room chewing qat. Not to mention the fact that half my school year was lost, which for me was pretty awesome, until I started getting sick of being home and missing my friends and to my surprise even my teachers. But before I could laugh at my unexpected feelings, red flames was all I could see, screaming and crying was all I can hear. Scared and confused, I blacked out.
My eyes opened suddenly, wondering who the hell was pulling my bed. I looked up, staring at the shaken nurse. I was in the hospital, I could feel my arm flooding with a warm sticky liquid, I could hear my mother crying, and voices of panicking doctors. Before I could ask what had happened, I spotted a bright, beautiful face floating over me. The face smiled, and as he leaned in to hold my hand, everything went blank. Hand in hand, he led me to a better peaceful place.
Rame Sharaf is a Teaching Assistant at the American Elementary School in Sana’a. She has finished her high school studies and wishes to pursue her University studies in Fine Arts.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect La Voix du Yémen’s editorial policy.