When looking for cooking gas becomes a life-threatning experience
It’s the first time I make it home in such late hour at night since the aircrafts began flying atop the roof of the sky while checking it coming and going along side it’s very noisy sound that’s although of it’s ugliness, it often gave the people of the neighborhood a chance to make-up new topics to speak to one another about where it’s heading every time. Especially, since war made them lose their jobs leaving them with nothing but those narrow alleys to spend their time speaking and talking to each other and telling jokes one to another.
Those aircrafts weren’t more frightful for the people of that neighborhood than their fear of the bullets of those AA-guns that those soldiers shoot from the summits if those mountains to bring one of those aircrafts down, even though these shots do nothing except fall down and make a story about how it fell down to kidnap the soul of this guy or leave that guy imprisoned in his own house after taking one of his limbs.
At that time I was afraid of my dad yelling at me more than my fear of my life being taken by one of those aircrafts or one of those bullets in the air.
Father: “Aha!.. Mohammed has finally come” he had an unusual smile and so was all of my family members. Everyone was looking at me ,smiling, as if I was every ones lost & found.
Me:”Sorry, I had to help A’mār with his work on his Master’s thesis”.
My brother Salah: “Is it really his or is he back to his old habit of writing the Master’s thesis for those with the resources but not the knowledge in their brains?”.
I then turned towards my brother infuriating saying: “What do you want him to do? Hah! Tell me!. Isn’t that better than staying unemployed at home waiting for whatever’s coming from the sky?!”.
A’mār was a poet working at the radio and television before the administration made him feel that he should stay at him due to the absent need for him to work there because of the situation. Since that moment he, alongside many of the educated and the creative people of our country, started working on literal researches and writing Master’s thesis for others for the money that those people give to help him make ends meet like his House’s rent and support his pregnant wife and 4-year-old daughter.My father turned to my brother gesturing to him to stop speaking, then gesturing to me to sit with him.
Father: “I heard from Al-Aqil(representative of the neighborhood) that a new batch of gas cylinders will be delivered to the station tomorrow morning, and I want you to take these cylinders and go with your cousin and fill them”.
Me: “Isn’t Al-Aqil ever going to stop lying to you and the rest of the people of this neighborhood!. He always keeps blabbering about such things then we go spend a whole day or even two waiting in line at the station just to find nothing but dust and the sounds of people fighting over their places in the line. Which usually ends with the death of a person or him going to the hospital splashed with his own blood”.
Father: “I know that my son, but this time it sounded serious. I even saw him pinching the ear of his son warning him to not be late”.
My brother Salah: “Go go, and don’t forget to be there early. And don’t go tomorrow to help your miserable friend (meaning A’mār)”.
In the next day morning; I woke up early to the sounds of gas cylinders rolling to the station around the neighborhood, then to the knocking of my cousin who apparently woke up early to his mum’s yelling at him. The weather was cold, my hands almost got mixed up with each other because of my strong rubbing looking for some warmth.
“OH GOD! Where did all these people come from?”. I’ve only saw such numbers when the head of the counsel of the representatives died. So his sons made a huge feast for the people of the capital hoping that some mercy will be upon him to protect him from the wrath of the fortunes that he spent his live stealing.
In one corner hundreds of meters away from the station I put my gas cylinders before one of the station workers came to put the number “1221” on it
Only now, after I came here by 5 hours did I start to see the gas cylinders moving a bit by bit, and before it the souls of those poor souls but quicker longing to see some liters of gas pouring into their cylinders .
“What?! Did the amount that just arrived finish?” This was my reaction to my cousin who came to tell me that the station was closed after the amount of gas that was in the station finished and that we should wait for an unknown amount of time for another truck loaded with gas to arrive.
That’s when my father came telling us with firm that we shouldn’t leave our spots. Especially since we were tens of meters closer to the station and that we shouldn’t leave it because the truck might come any minute!.
The watch was pointing now at 5 pm. The sun started to move towards the mountain falling away from our sights as it’s usual habit, and in that exact moment the aircrafts started its usual turn filling fear and owe in the souls of the women, children, and the elderly. For the ones other than those three, these aircrafts became nothing but an entertainment, seeing fear drawn on the faces of the others.
I decided then to take a walk around the station to see how many miserable people like me are still waiting.
“Oh god! How would this old man who can barely hold his stick, or rather for his stick to hold him, to stay all this time waiting for the unknown?!. How would that woman be so harsh on her children by taking them out with her to camp there?!”.
The amount of miserable and owe I saw pouring from the eyes of the ones sitting there was enough to fill me with the energy to wait for a thousand year, and to fill me with the energy to curse and swear at the ones who were the reason of putting the country in such situation another thousand year!.
I stopped and went back to my cylinders corner. I took only a few step before the sounds of explosions getting louder slowly and slowly. The columns of fume started its usual ascending to the sky and with it the eyes of the people puking fear and their hands holding tight to their cylinders like someone holding to a lifeline.
My father came to us warning us again of leaving and that we should take refuge beneath one of the close houses.
Suddenly, a big explosion happened that started a big fire on the summit of that big mountain that’s overlooking the region. And then we saw the missiles flying from the mountain towards us in a random fashion destroying everything that stands in its way. Even the houses that hid us began throwing shattered window’s glasses at us as if they hated that we stood next to them. The woman left the cylinders and were busy escaping with their children hurling loads of curses and insults. Even the greedy taxi drivers, those who drool at every hand that signal them to stop started driving with an insane speed not caring for anyone. After that everyone started running right and left carrying those cylinders over their backs except women and elderly who left everything and kept running. It got to a point that someone lost his daughter and came back grunting like a madman looking for her everywhere. Everyone here screams, cries, and most definitely escapes!.
My dad, cousin and I were still holding to the idea of not going back home before filling these gas cylinders that we came with. We were running back and forth. And that’s how we stayed until those fragments became an umbrella over our heads. That’s when my father ordered us to escape. And if it weren’t for his fear that one of those fragments hitting the gas stations fuel tanks he wouldn’t have given up in the idea of staying there!.
We started running towards home taking shelter under the balconies of the houses every time there is an explosion close to us.
Suddenly, the sky started becoming red slowly until it became like a cinder hanging over our heads, then it was followed by a strong wind that threw us over the ground with a huge explosion that I’ve never heard of before!.
I left the cylinders in their places and took shelter in a clinic that was still half open and so did my cousin. As for my father, he went back to take those cylinders to catch up with us.
In the clinic there was nothing except the smell of blood and tears messing the air molecules inside the clinic. We waited for nearly an hour and a half until the sounds of explosions were quite then we went straight to our neighborhood. The sky had darkened by that time and everything was still as if death was a guest in that area.
In the neighborhood the houses vomited their doors and windows and became either lying on the street or hanging waiting for a pedestrian to fall over, and the youth of the neighborhood gather to protect it the neighborhood from those who’d take this such chance and use the chaos to steal the civilians homes and properties.
when we got back to our house we found no one except my older brother standing on the rooftop holding rocks in his hands waiting for anyone who’d think about robbing our house to throw them at him. For the rest of the family, they took refuge with the rest of the families of the neighborhood in the basement of the neighborhood’s Masjid (mosque) to protect them in case the aircrafts came back.