As the sun hid behind the clouds, they were getting ready to leave. Beyond the string of mountains they were on was their little village, which was the reason why they grew fond of rock climbing and hiking from an early age. Clusters of bushes and weeds were a rare but not an unusual sight. Donia, being the little dreamy girl she is, did not really care much about the vegetation of the region. Animals, on the other hand, caught her full attention whenever she saw them. Flocks of migrant birds were her favourites for they always filled her little heart with bliss; she would always picture herself riding them to a magical place far away from there. Just as she was having one of these moments, the fading sound of the village’s siren reached them and interrupted her daydreaming.

Her big brother Iheb was shouting to get the others to return, grabbing her from her hand as he started walking. Another kid, Jihed who was their cousin, kept saying that the siren meant that it has happened again, over and over and irritated them. Knowing it was true, yet wanting to keep the young ones calm, Iheb threatened to throw him off the edge unless he shut his mouth. Theirs was a hard land in which life and death were often intertwined and dealt with approximately in the say way and they barely made the difference between them, hence their trifling with the matter.

In their region, live mines left behind from the war were still spread across and making the lives of the locals hellish. Not a single endeavour to get rid of them was successful. Old Uncle Ammar, the most respected elder, led delegation after delegation to authorities with nothing but rejection for an answer. Pulling strings for money was a usual habit to the officials of the district, but their village was poor. They even considered to take things into their own hands and try to cleanse the surrounding fields themselves, but they lacked the means and the expertise to do it. Quitting, however, was not an option so everyone contributed with the little they had in order to cover the payment needed in order to rid themselves from those cursed mines.

To the children’s surprise, they heard the siren on the day on which the district’s officials were to come for an inspection; receiving a bribe from their constituency could not have been registered in an official report. Though Iheb was agitated and scared, he managed to get all of them home safely, tracing back the same route they always took. His mind was occupied with what he saw on the way back since it was truly unbelievable. As soon as they got past the village’s limit, he ran as fast as he can to the infirmary for a verification of his thoughts. A lot of people were there and pushing through them, he saw the Vice Deputy laying on the ground all covered in blood. While their driver was trying to avoid a hole in the middle of the road, the car got off track and headed towards the fields triggering a mine.

 

Published by Aymen Bessalah