Who Would Find Their Bodies?

“It’s coming,” she said and there was the whizzing again as if the bomb was passing lower between the buildings; and then there was the deafening explosion. Then another, and yet another. This time the bombs were falling at a much quicker pace. For a moment it would be quiet again and they would still hear the whistling in their ears. They would hurt and they would feel the tiredness, an all-over exhaustion, a feeling of let-go. Another bunch would follow, and every time they would send some, Nayla would know beforehand and squeeze his arm. Her hand never left its place. They sat there, nestled against each other, holding their breath, wincing every time a shell exploded, looking at the people around them, not noticing anyone. Outside the sirens would start, only to be silenced again by the falling bombs until they would be quieted completely. The ear-splitting loudness of explosions was so deafening that children never stopped crying, forcing their mothers to cry and scream with them. No one was moving, except the children in their mothers’ laps; it seemed that no one was breathing as well. Everyone was petrified to death. Everyone sat waiting.

She looked at Hayat cowered beside Elie against the wall, her hands on her belly as if shielding her unborn baby, protecting it. Her face was as white as the wall she was leaning against, tears running down her cheeks. The shells were falling on them like a storm now, more intensely, more frequently exploding closer and deafening them. It was as if their building was being rocked by the blasts. Nayla squeezed Samer’s arm more frequently now, more forcefully. They cowered in their chairs unable even to breathe between bombings. The more the bombs intensified and came closer, the more restless and tired Nayla got. Her ears ached. If only they would stop, for a few minutes she thought. Images kept crossing her mind. What if their building got blown up and they were buried under the rubble. Would anyone rescue them? Who would tell their parents? What if a rocket hit their basement and their bodies got blown to pieces, or got burnt, and became unrecognizable? Who would try to locate them? There were hundreds, perhaps thousands who were trapped under buildings and were never rescued because of the danger of the falling bombs. What if they both survived but with a physical defect, amputated legs, arms, or blinded. Oh God! It looked as if it was the end of the world, at least for them, she thought. She felt nauseated. She covered her mouth with her hand, and looked at her husband. He moved his hand only to light a cigarette. He was smoking heavily she realized. No one in the room was moving or even breathing. With every explosion the sound of glass shattering, screams and shouts and cries from neighboring buildings would reach them through the dark and cold night outside, an indication that the bombs were falling very close to them. They sat like this for hours and hours, crouched in their seats, awaiting their destiny. And, oh God, how she dreaded the waiting. You closed your eyes waiting for the sound to pierce your ears, for the loudness, the shaking to penetrate your body, for fear to rape your soul, until you became so hysterical you couldn’t control yourself, and you started to scream and cry like a child. They were bombing them fiercely, mercilessly, endlessly. By now almost every woman, child, teenager, old men, young men- almost everyone in the room, was crying. Nayla wasn’t crying. She was too tired, desperately hopeless, to even do so. All she wished at the time was that the bombing would stop, even for a very brief time. The whizzing, the explosions, people’s shouts and screams were all too much for her. She wanted it to be over, no matter how, even if it meant they’d be killed, or blown up or whatever. Samer was sitting beside her; they were leaning against each other, quaking in their chairs. At one point she felt their building swaying above them, moving from side to side, balancing itself, and then swinging again. At times the explosion would be so powerful that she felt stones and rocks falling on the roof above their heads. The tremor, the fear they were experiencing was what one would experience in a powerful earthquake that would never end until the ground opened and swallowed them all. This continued till after midnight. No sirens were heard above the intensity of the falling bombs anymore, only the desperate cries of people.

Taken from The Lost I


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