Published on 19 March 2012 in Essays
Rame Sharaf (author)

Rame Sharaf


It doesn’t make sense to me… The fact that I’m still in Yemen while it’s at the verge of war, but all I can say is that 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 to my and so many others’ life. 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, even terrified.

 At the beginning it was said that it’ll end fast, but two months into these violent events I knew this wasn’t going to end, or not that fast at least. Some people would joke and say I should be used to it – after all I was born in the war of 1994. I’d laugh and joke along, but in the back of all our heads we all know that it’s not funny at all. It’s 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 gun fire, lots of it, then I realized it wasn’t a knock at all. I clumsily got off my bed, and tripped over a few of my sisters’ toys whilst cursing silently. I rushed downstairs, and sure enough aunty Salwa was awake. Obviously she had heard what I heard.

 “Auntie, what was the sound?” I asked in my sleepy voice, already knowing the answer, but asking anyway, hoping she’d dismiss it and say it’s just a car back firing. 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 mum and brothers and tell them to come and sleep downstairs.” I ran as fast as I could and knocked on my mom’s door. She already had sheets and was heading 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’s already tucked in right beside the little corner where her sheets lay. 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 Ahmar clan and Ali Salah’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. A neighbor of ours got hit by a cannon, and others got a few bullets through their windows. A close friend of the family died along with his entire family while trying to flee. A shell landed right on their car. As if the deaths of so many loved ones wasn’t enough, gas was hard to find. Propane and water where even harder to get. Electricity was off for days. If we were lucky it would come on for an hour or two. Even internet and phone connections where awful. The more fortunate had generators, but it still was hard. Prices soared to ridiculous levels. We managed, but many didn’t. The poor started going back to their villages. The richer started leaving to nearby Arab countries, like Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Diplomats went back to their safe and peaceful countries.

 Despite all that, there were some positives to this situation. I realized that the lack of electricity, television, internet and phones 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 candle light and listen to the adults’ childhood adventures. We asked them about history, and politics, even cursed together at the sometimes too close cannon shell that landed. And then one of us would change the subject quickly before the kids noticed. In the afternoons, we women would all drink tea with biscuits and mostly talk about politics, 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 soon enough I started missing my friends, and to my surprise even the teachers. But before I could laugh at my unexpected feelings, all I could see were red flames, screaming and crying was all I could hear. Then everything went blank, and all I can remember is hoping that this was a dream.

 I suddenly open my eyes, confused and scared. I feel my bed is being pushed. As I look up I realize I am not on my bed or at my house. I’m in the hospital. I can feel my arm flooding with a warm sticky liquid. I can hear my mother crying, and voices of panicking doctors. I can see a beautiful face floating over me. The face smiled at me as he leaned in to hold my hand. Everything went blank, and hand-in-hand he led me to a better peaceful place. That is the how I ended up here… In the land of the dead, young with unfinished life.