Inside Aleppo

Published by Victor Barr on

There was nothing quite as joyful as the laughter of a child. His son had the ball in his hands and tossed it off the back wall of their home. His wife held Mahdi close, and they both watched their son bounce the red ball, the cat was chasing it and the child’s laughter rose and fell with every bounce.

His little son just celebrated his 3rd birthday. The joy they felt watching him tempered the feeling of fear they felt knowing that other parts of the country were at war. The government forces were clamping down on the protestors in places like Homs and Baniyas. It felt like it would only be a matter of time before the war came to Aleppo. His wife thought differently but he knew things were getting worse.

In Egypt and Tunisia, it was the Arab spring, and those people were freed from their oppressive regimes. Mahdi knew better than to hope the same thing would happen in Syria. His father and brother had already died from bloodshed at the protests. He’d taken over the butcher shop and his mother was now on her own. She refused when he asked her to move in with them, there were too many memories in her home to leave behind.

But now she was having trouble feeding herself and shipments of food had dwindled to a trickle. Mahdi hardly had enough meat to keep his shop open. They were barely surviving.

And their little one laughed in defiance of it all.

His wife was smiling at him. She took in the sight of their child and the cat and said, “Mahdi my dear when Assad realizes how much the people are suffering, he will stop the bombing, stop the killing.”

“Assad is a monster who cares nothing for the people. He only cares about himself and his friends.” Mahdi replied.

“We are safe here in Aleppo. The government won’t harm us, we have done nothing wrong.”

“The government, the rebels they don’t care about anything except themselves. we will become the victims in between.” Mahdi grabbed his wife and held her hand, “All we can do is look after each other. I won’t let anything happen to you.”

The sound was like a high-pitched whistle. Then hell broke out and the world around them shook in a devastating crash. Mahdi reached out and grabbed their son. The three of them ran back inside their home and headed for the basement. Another high-pitched whistle followed them and the ground shook.

The sound engulfed them all, it was like they were right inside thunder. The explosion was so close. He pushed them inside and covered them with his body.

Then silence.

In a heartbeat the quiet was broken by the wail of sirens all around. Mahdi’s felt his senses getting overwhelmed. He smelt the burning of buildings. Then he could smell the sickening odor of burning flesh. Screams filled his ears and he tried to shelter his child from the brunt of all the impacts.

Sobs escaped his child, and he held him close. His wife put her arms around them both and the three of them huddled for shelter. The bombs fell all around, the rebels attacked the city attempting to drive out the government forces. It was all so insane, after all the bombs and the gunfire, silence echoed in the streets. The only sound was that of the screams and cries of those left behind.

He held his family close. Somehow, they were still alive.

Two years of bombs and war devastated his home city. He would never again hear the laughter of his child. After that day his son retreated inside himself. Then came the fateful day when the bombs fell on his home and destroyed his world.

* * *

The above is a snippet from my upcoming novel, Death In The Window. It is a flashback from one of the characters.


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