One, two, three. One, two, three. Keep calm like mama said. I see green, a single tree with a thousand leaves blowing in the summer breeze, I hear mama cooking in the kitchen, I smell the spices, I can hear her chopping the tomato, a Red Burgul Pilaf, I can almost taste it, its nutty flavor. It’s gone. I’ve opened my eyes and I see mamas eyes turn into a waterfall as she hears gunfire in the distance outside. I wonder where daddy went.
“Mommy, the noise is hurting my head.” She wiped away the tears, I don’t think she noticed I had opened my eyes yet.
She sniffled and began to speak, “Don’t worry, come here.” She said gesturing toward herself. Once I had scooted over by her, she held my head and kissed my forehead for a while, I felt a single tear run down her face to mine, it was so cold in contrast to the heat which surrounded us.
“Any better?” She said trying to stop her tears. “Yeah mama. Thanks!” She smiled, tears still being fought, but a smile shined through. I lied, I don’t usually do that, but it made mama stop crying. The gunfire ceased outside, everything was silent for a few long seconds, the mother closed her eyes and took a deep breathe, slowly she exhaled as the people began to speak. “Let’s move, there’s more ground to cover.” Their voices were as sharp as knives. The dust cloud left in the trail of the jeeps as they sped away, some sand seeped through the windows.
“Are they gone now?” I hoped they were, I don’t know why, but I felt daddy had gone. “ Yes, they’re gone.” She stared at the ground for a minute before her shock turned to sorrow and grief, until determination and strength filled her eyes. “Everythings going to be…” She was quiet for second. “Just fine. I promise.”
I’m so hungry, luckily mama's cooking dinner. She says just a few more minutes.
“Adiba, can you please get some spices from the cellar, we don’t have enough up here.”
“ Ok mama.” So Adiba went down the cellar stairs after opening the hatch, she could smell every individual spice, mama loved to cook, and Adiba and her father loved the food. Adiba couldn’t pronounce half of the spices mama used. Suddenly an explosion that sounded like four-hundred and seventy thousand screams all at once, the blast forced the hatch shut behind Adiba, everything went black. Huh...Uh….Wha….no. No. NO!
“MAMA! MAMA! WHERE ARE YOU?! MAMA. I CAN’T SEE! IT'S TOO DARK! Mama...Mama, please..please answer. Mama. Please. Please, I-I need you…just answer. Please...MAMA!” But she wasn’t pleading with her mother, she was pleading with god, Allah, to let her mother stay.
She frantically ran around the cellar looking for the hatch, screaming for her mother, but not getting a response. Everything felt cold, like ice, so cold. She found the hatch, it was so warm, like a burning fire with endless fuel. Where’s mama? I need to find her. All I hear Are screams, panic and chaos, the sand and debris is almost blinding, I smell the burning tires and metal. Everythings silent. I see mama, there’s something sticking out of her chest, “MAMA!” I saw her arm raise in the slightest, but it fell immediately. I ran over as fast as I could, my surroundings became nothing but a blur, only my mama was in focus. The woman had a piece of debris that impaled her left pulmonary arteries, she would die soon.
“ Ma-Ma-Mama?” Adiba said, her voice was breaking, her lip quivered, she watched in horror, she felt hopeless, as though everything was slipping through her fingers. “Mama? Are you ok?” She asked, her worry wrapped every word. “I-I...I lo-love you. Don’t forget.” Her mother said, using what little energy she had left to say these words as she gave Adiba her ring with a shaking hand. Adiba grasped her mother’s hand, ring still in hand, “No, everythings going to be just fine, don’t worry.” Her mother’s face turned milky white, she gave Adiba a proud and loving look, just before her eyes closed, the second seemed to last an eternity, as soon as they closed, her mother let out a long exhaling breath. It was like time had resumed, Adiba could hear the people, the chaos, again. “MAMA!” Adiba screamed over and over, when she stopped, she placed her forehead against her mother's cold hand, a thousand tears rushed down her face. Mama said we would get away, go find a home in Lebanon. Don’t worry, I’ll get us a home.
It’s so hot. My tummy is hurting so bad and my head hurts so much. I see a-a tree, but it has no leaves, it needs watering. Please water the tree. Please help.