“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’
To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers
June 12 2015 was the closest a missile reached us, a row of houses in front of ours.
We lost 7 neighbors. Three houses, hundreds of years old, collapsed disfiguring a landmark of the Old City of Sana’a. Forever gone, nebulized.
The world, soon after, expressed outrage because the airstrike had hit a UNESCO protected site.
But they don’t know.
Every one has a particular memory of that night: rushing down the stair, holding the knees, rocking the babies, praying, being splashed cold water on the face. Everyone remembers something different, same way everyone was asking forgiveness for everything done in life. In some cases, for future sins. Just in case.
Some were swearing and cursing the aggressor.
The missile did not explode. It had simply thrashed pulverizing the houses, dissolving them.
Jets were still flying and the men simply rushed to the site. They helped. For hours at a time, in the dust and rubbles, they dag bare-handed with the shemag, the scarf, tight around the mouth. With flip-flops or slippers. Or bare-feet. They never stopped. Never, for days.
Friends living 20 kms away, were trying to find gasoline, a carpool, to come and help.
The whole city turnt to our neighbourhood. Everyone offered help.
My phone rang with voices apologizing I had to be trapped in a war no one wanted, I had to witness rock bottom of humanity.
Indeed, there are always helpers. There is always someone paying attention, rushing, digging in the debris.
There is always someone shooting a series of gunshots with Kalashnikov saluting the corpses, once found; someone preparing a cup of tea for you and asking ‘Are you hungry?’, someone praying for the dead and their soul, someone lending the car to rush to hospital with a survivor who, at the end, did not survive long.
There is always someone telling you the story of the Japanese expatriate who used to live in one of the demolished houses and ‘heaven, he must be ever so sad to find out his house is no longer here’.
There will always be nightmares relating to the war, but they will always be balanced by the memories of those who did everything they could to help.
There will, I know.
(In the picture: what was left of one of the homes of my neighbours. Memories)