Illustration: Takayo Akiyama / Save the Children
It is morning, but as I write this blog post, I am already thinking about what will happen tonight. Will there be airstrikes? It was quiet for the past couple of months, but lately airstrikes have resumed.
I remember how excited we were when we moved into this apartment – me, my husband and my son. It’s on the ninth floor! Which means that we have to take the stairs every now and then because electricity is not always available. My apartment views over Sana’a (that’s the capital of Yemen) are amazing, but then the airstrikes started again on the night we moved in. There were four airstrikes that targeted the same neighbourhood where my mom and my handicapped grandmother were in. I called my mom and I asked her to stay away from the windows and to be careful. I couldn’t sleep and I was worried about her, until she texted me 3 hours later saying everything was OK.
Now, whenever the airstrikes happen, I lie with my little boy – he is three years old – and his one-eyed cuddly sheep and we cuddle until it is over. We stay where we are because this building has no shelter. Even if we ran down the stairs – nine floors, remember – there would be nowhere to go.
Sometimes, we put on headphones and play loud music to drown out the noise. At other times, we just listen to the sounds of the planes overhead. My little boy is so funny. He actually loves planes and carries a small orange airplane everywhere he goes. Every time aircrafts hover over, he gets all excited and jumps up and down. He says, “Whoah, let’s go see the airplane!” but I pull him away from the windows, because we don’t have any functioning airports here, so I know aeroplanes mean one thing: bombs. When I hear them approach, I think, “This might be the end”.
I try to stay calm for my boy. Inside, I’m completely panicking, worrying about how on earth we will get out of here if we get hit. Somehow children always feel your stress. My son tells me, “Mummy smile. Mummy, be happy don’t be sad!”
So that is what I try to do. Even though my country is at war, bombs are falling, and people are going hungry, I try to smile and be happy for my son.
Think of us tonight when you go to sleep – without the sound of airstrikes or the fear a bomb will wipe you out.
Sukaina is from Yemen and works for Save the Children in her home country, which has been at war since 2015.