The Sound of Silence

February 1, 2009
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The blood red sunset spread across the sea as I stood still ' very still. There was no sound around me; no wind, no rustle of leaves, no blasts of a car horn or the sound of a shell exploding. The taste of salt touched my lips as I stood barefoot in the sand. My shaggy hair hung around me, desperately needing a haircut. I stretched my toes through the sand, letting it flow between them. After years of fighting there was rest, and I finally felt free.

I hadn't seen my family for three years, but from my wife's frequent letters, it was apparent that they were never safe.
March 15

I tried to go to the market this morning, but failed. The streets were crowded with many and the dead lined the streets. A stench of death and gun powder hung in the air, making the horrific sight worse. I turned back, worrying about all of our friends and family. Last night there was a horrible bombing. The noise was awful and we cowered at home for hours while shells exploded everywhere. It was mainly centered a few miles from home, so we were lucky, but ever day the noise of guns and shooting gets worse. Fifty died, and I just hope that all is safe and well with you. Every night I pray for your safe return. Alena and Jordan are growing more and more every day.
Love from all.

There was no way to walk to the market to get fresh vegetables or to buy a loaf of hot, doughy bread. Friends had died around me and horrors of war still shook me at night. But it was all different now ' the tiger slept soundly.

The streets seemed alive even though it was midnight. The scarce number of people was more welcoming than the sight of Israeli tanks and soldiers, patrolling streets with heavy guns in hand. There was destruction everywhere. I could barely recognize the local mosque; its once beautiful double doors, intricately carved with vines and scenes from the Koran, had become a single door soiled by war. Broken windows bordered every street and a house with holes blasted through its walls stood ghostly on a street corner. I walked passed a beggar in a ragged dress and shawl on a street corner and flipped a few coins into her threadbare lap. She smiled and silently prayed.

A couple walked past, holding hands. They too were silent, enjoying the quiet night that had finally come to us.

The night was humid, sweat dripping down my face. I stopped, buying a cold mango juice at a late-night street stand. I sipped quietly, trying not to disturb the precious silence. The juice brought back memories of childhood and countless hours spent with my siblings, now gone from the consequences of war.

A man, unshaven and thin, walked up to me, dressed in rugged clothes that barely covered his chest.

'Five shekels for a relic of God?' he questioned quietly, holding out a small, tattered piece of light blue muslin cloth.

I shook my head.

'God has already found me,' I murmured, and walked away.

My home was close, and I could feel the pull of longing to see my family guiding me down the street. It was almost a quarter to one, and I expected them to be asleep.

I reached the door reading 209. The door brought back a sense of relaxation, of familiarity. Its high arcs and intricately carved woodwork showed hours of my grandfather's time. I could feel the wood, rough as always underneath my hand, as I gently knocked. I didn't want to scare them. They knew I was returning, but what time, what day, was unknown. I waited, but did not expect an opening of the door.

It came softly at first, almost too quiet to hear. The light pitter-patter of bare feet running across a well-worn floor came closer to the door. A feeling of relief washed over me, a feeling that all was okay. My family stood inside, awaiting my entrance.

The door opened quietly, a small, green eye peaking around the corner, my eye.
September 18

We came home today, Jordan and I. Alena seemed slightly jealous of the new baby, but curious at the same time. Jordan. There are never enough words to explain love. He looks so much like you; the same green eyes and black curly hair'

There was a gasp, a small squeal of delight, and tiny hands were pulling me inward.

A clatter from the kitchen and the pounding of feet on the floor; I could hear a sob and then saw nothing as my vision was obstructed by arms. I was taken by surprise. Alena and I had never been very close. At five years old, she had had a mind of her own, wanting only her mother. I had given her space, reminding her that I always loved her. But this was new. She was normally quiet, or at least three years ago she was. At eight, my absence must have hit her hard, harder than she realized.

I felt arms wrapping around my knees, the grasping of fingers, and a hand touched my shoulder. No one moved, Alena had stopped crying and now clung around my neck; silence rung out. Finally, a shift of weight from one leg to another and a 'We've waited so long!' A kiss on my cheek and arms wrapped tightly around me.
I could see the faint shimmer of tears as they ran down my wife's face. Emotion leapt around me, and I tightened my grip around her shoulders, holding her close to me. All was the same, but all was different. Her voice, the sweet tone that whispered to everyone; the long, brown hair braided down her back, and her face ' a face of small, hazel eyes and a few freckles. But sounds and scenes of war now purged her mind. She didn't show, but I knew it was there, just like in me. We didn't speak; there were no words to explain. A tug at my knee and a whispered, 'It's my turn!'

I let go slowly, and knelt down. My son was much different than what I had imagined. Maya was right. His short, curly black hair clung to his head, just like mine. And in his left fist, a toy truck was grasped. He looked at me with wonder. Somewhere deep inside, I knew he knew who I was. Stories could paint only so much for the listener, but I knew in his head I had been there all along. Hesitantly, I reached my arms around his small shoulders and picked him up, holding him close to me.

He rested his head on my chest, his eyes closing. His small hand held tightly on to my old t-shirt, unwilling to let go.
I slowly walked over to an armchair by the window overlooking the street. It was dark outside, the moon casting an eerie glow over the street. My son sat on my lap, now asleep. My wife walked over and gently held my hand, stroking our son's soft hair with her other. My daughter sat on the floor, leaning her head against the chair.
All was different. There were no sounds of guns and shells exploding. No wind whistled through the trees. All was quiet; all was peaceful, and the tiger slept soundly. We sat there, listening to the sound of silence.

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i<3you said...
Mar. 4, 2009 at 1:20 am
Very good
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