It all started in September 2015. It was Thursday. My father was visiting my grandmother back in our village. I was going to pick my sister up from her university. While I was standing there, waiting for her to finish talking to her professor, we kept hearing sounds of explosions that became louder and louder every few minutes. We didn’t know what it was and then suddenly a soldier came and told every one to quickly leave. In a flash, everyone quickly grabbed their things and the building got really crowded. People started asking questions about whats going on?. The normal day turned into a very worrisome day. My sister and I went home which was ,fortunately, 5 minutes away from the university. an hour later the explosions started becoming louder and closer.

When the night came the shootings stopped for a while and it was all quiet. The power was cut off and stayed that way through the whole week. Around midnight the battles started again. I remember looking out the window. Looking at bullets flying in every direction and hand-grenades exploding. We hardly slept that day because of the loud battles. They stopped again near dawn. Waking up the other day, my brother and I were getting ready for Jumma prayer (Friday prayer). When we went to the Masjid there weren’t many people there and those who came had a worry look on there faces. You can’t blame them! there is a battle 2 km away from where they are. We finished praying then went back home. near the afternoon the clashes began again. I still remember looking at a house on top of mountain in front of us being shelled. Some of the shells hit a house next to it which lit it on fire. Meanwhile, my mum was calling my dad telling him to come. Relatives and friends started calling us to check on us and offering help. and I remember my mum was talking to my aunt on the phone when a shell hit somewhere in the neighborhood, it was so loud my aunt heard it and got more worried than what she already was. We ate breakfast hearing explosions, lunch on gunshots, eating dinner on candles listening to the bitter music of war.

Again we hardly slept that day. When we woke up the next day it was really quiet. My father called telling us that he’s coming to Sana’a. The streets were empty and people stayed home or fled the neighborhood. around noon most of our neighbors left and we stayed with only our neighbors living in the same building. The battles began again and this time they were closer than before. Some of our neighbors decided to leave. my dad reached us around 2 pm and the battles were less than 10 mins away from where we were. When I took our bags to put them in the car; I kept my back down because the shootings were incredibly close!!. But, we had one problem. We couldn’t take all of our things with us. So we only were able to take the most valuable things. during all this mess we couldn’t/forgot (I don’t remember which) to take the family albums. Surprisingly by the time we were ready; The battles stopped and we got out of the house. while we were driving soldiers were showing us the safest routes. when we left the area of clashes ,about 15 mins of driving, we saw people in shops, driving, and eating in restaurants.

It was as if we just passed into a different country or even a different realm!. it was an incredible eye-opening experience for me!

We reached my uncles house to stay there. My dad received a call that night from a neighbor telling him that our building was broken into. So we decided to go see our home the next day to check if anything was stolen. I couldn’t sleep that night. Thinking that our family photos ended up with some strangers hand. The next day we went to our neighborhood to check on the apartment. It was like a storm hit that small quite street. I will never forget the scene of our neighbors standing in front of their houses. Broken doors, windows, and lots of holes in their walls due to the showering bullets. From all this, you can tell that a fierce battle happened in this street. One of the neighbors came with a metal box that was left in his yard. He didn’t know what it was and came to the rest of us asking about it. It was obvious from the two wires sticking out of it that it was an explosive.

I went straight to our house. There was still no power in the neighborhood so it was dark although it was 10 am. Due to coming from outside, when I entered our apartment my eyes were still unaccustomed to the darkness of the place. so I needed a few seconds to be able to see. I ran straight to the room where the bag with the family albums was. I FOUND IT!!!. I took the deepest breath of relief I’ve ever took or ever take.

I’ll never forget what I saw in those 3 days. and I hope it doesn’t happen again, to me or to any one.

If you’d like to contact Salah Al-Dhaferi. You can find him on