Too Beautiful to Burn – Dinnertime Gunshots

The sun has just set and we’re sitting in a circle on the floor. This is how we eat here. There’s ten men and five plates of food. Each plate shared by two hungry men. And tea. There is always tea. Tonight, dinner is good. We’re halfway through our five plates of potatoes and rice and baow. We freeze for two seconds. Baow, Baow. Two more shots ring out. The young men jump to their feet and away from the windows. Within two seconds they seem to be behind the thickest parts of the walls. Dr. Hakim and a few of the guys are still sitting. There is a ten seconds of silence. We all wait to see what will come. Just quiet. The sounds of the street. A carhorn. There is some hustle and bustle, someone running somewhere. Exhale. Faiz looks out the window. Doesn’t seem like anything he says.

They all laugh. Oh, you jumped! No you jumped! You we’re scared. They look at me and smile, “Luke, whats the matter you don’t like the potatoes?” I had switched over to tea. “They’re delicious”, I say. I’ll be back for more in a second. I was sitting there reflecting on how gunshots sound so different this far home. My galloping heart slows back down in my chest and I shake my head amazed at these young men who’ve lived through 12 years of constant war and so generous with their joy.