Inspired by true events. All characters and similarities are fictional.
I helped Hammsa clean up his shop from the ruins that fell during the last night raid and bought the sunflower seeds for tonight. He refused to take my money and waved at me goodbye when Hatije came to buy some fruit. Hatije stopped me at the door and gave me a vine of ripe date fruits from her basket. She asked if I was going to come to the roof later. It was something I was not going to miss. Fatima will be there.
A convoy just passed me and I waved at the army as they moved to the region down south where everyone could see the smoke rise and heard an echo of gunfire bouncing against the walls. There was a plane swooshing over my head and the sound of his jets reverberated in dots over the street. The crowd burst in cheer for the pilot.
“Hey Rashid. How’s your Russian going?” An old man Mohamed asked showing me his yellow teeth under the long white mustaches. He had a warmth in his eyes and a cane my father made for him. His old woolen sweater caught some dust he tried to shake off when he sat in front of his gate and a crater behind him. I could see his daughter through the ruins making lunch for the kids. I still remember her food and spices.
“It is going well. The teacher said I lost the accent so I have my hopes high. Insha’Allah, I will catch up with Fatima and rival her knowledge.” I said passing by.
Just when I walked in the apartment, I heard the news report and my father cussing at the anchor who spoke of the latest attacks. He threw his hands about and my mother walked in caring a plate of food.
“I just wish all of them to leave us alone. They should fix their countries first, and then start preaching to others of what to do.” The father grunted and took the garden chairs. “Common, we’ll miss the show.” He added patting my head and left for the stairs that led to the rooftop.
He opened the door with a screech and there was the whole neighborhood, or what was left of it. Many went on the march for Europe, but we stayed. Father didn’t wanted to leave his country. He thought it was a cowardly thing to do, leaving your motherland when it was the hardest.
I took the chair and brought it closer to Fatima’s and sat there with a smile. She giggled when I took the sunflower seeds out and opened the bag. We started eating the seeds, when sunset came. A lively chatter was interrupted when the sirens started blaring.
“Here it comes.” Father said and we saw the long streams of red light chasing for the white glowing orbs in the sky. Like a desert snakes dancing in the dust, it was a spectacle, a light show and we had the best seats in town. Fatima grabbed my hand and shook from the chilly air that crept in with the dark.
“Are you scared of the bombing?” She asked, her eyes locked on the lights.
“Dad said he is more worried for the value of a dollar than the bombing. There are far more dreadful things to worry about than a few rockets falling.” I responded and pulled the date fruits from my pocket. “The Russians are here and the world is watching. They can speak their lies about us, but we know the truth. In ten years, we will forget about this. It will be a memory of our childhood, never to be repeated if we teach our children right.” I smiled at her and she took a tighter hold of my arm, chewed on a date and spat the seed out.
We stayed there for a few more hours, watching at the rocket sky, spoke about life, saw the light show and heard some vile words. At the end, it was just another night among friends, just another day in Syria, one more that will be talked about in the morning over a cup of tea and a whiff of hookah.
We let our Syria sleep, went to our beds with hopes of tomorrow. And tomorrow we will repeat all of this. And the next day, and the day after that, until there are no days like this, until there is no more of the rocket sky, until the war ends.
This one goes to all the Syrian people who have seen the worst of what we can be as humans. I have hope that this will end soon enough and that you will come back to your usual lifestyle. Stay strong, survive and get your lives back.