The Day I Witnessed War

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That beautiful afternoon, everyone was having a wonderful time. As I looked around the room, I saw only happy faces, smiling, eating snacks, chatting, flirting… I could also see the Sun outside the window right across the room, slowly descending to the horizon between the other long buildings. I wondered what floor I was on: maybe 20, 25? It must be quite high, the sunset looked magnificent.

Then came that odd, deafening, whistle-like sound… I scoped the room to see who felt the need to whistle that loud – did not want to miss the joke. But no one was laughing. In fact, everyone was looking around to locate the source of the sound, just like me. The next thing we heard was a crumbling, loud explosion and an unnatural, blinding brightness that surrounded the building next to ours. I was stunned at the view as someone yelled “DOWN! IT’S A MISSILE!” Out of shock, my glass slipped through my hands. I was desperately looking for a cover – a couch, a table, anything. I hid behind a couch next to a group of friends, who seemed to lose their logic: “They already hit the building next to us, they won’t hit us.” “How about going to the basement?” “We’d definitely die there, it’s good we are on this high – we actually can survive if the building collapses.” Meanwhile, I was crying, thinking of my mom and how I did not respond to the last message she had sent. Then, something hit the building.

And silence… Waiting…

I tried to get a peak of what was going on from behind the couch and saw a big, metal ball in the middle of the living room. I knew I did not have time but maybe if I jumped from the balcony… As I was hopelessly trying to open the door, suddenly, I felt maybe a thousand stings on my back. My hands were shaking and my only thought was: “This can’t be real, please, this has to be a dream…”

These must have been the magic words. Everything faded into nothingness and I woke up.

I always believe that if interpreted right, dreams provide a unique introspective of our deep, sub-conscious thoughts, beliefs and feelings. However up until now, I never thought the fear of war and collapse of everything I knew was actually embedded in my brain but it seems to be the case. Being exposed to war and conflict news on a daily basis, in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and recently, the much-spoken possibility of a World War 3, I sometimes can’t help but think if we live in a doomed reality, with selfish, ignorant, greedy, unempathetic and self-centered people in charge of leading us from one catastrophe to another.

I am almost 24 years old and for the first time in my life, and hopefully the last, I had a nightmare about a war. As a person with an absurd sense of imagination, I have had all kinds of dreams: alien invasion, zombie attack, deadly diseases, death of friends and family, becoming a spy… But war? That was completely new. It’s been half an hour now since I woke up and my eyes are still filled with tears.

I can’t help but wonder, now more than ever, how Syrian refugees sleep at night, with the possibility of a nightmare about war, after witnessing things a million times worse than what I merely imagined for 5 minutes. How do they cope with a reality, 5 minutes of which was enough to make me think about jumping off a balcony?

How can they be so strong?

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