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War Stories

May 16, 2013
My brother Jesse and his son, Simon.

My brother Jesse and his son, Simon.

I flew to Durham to meet my new nephew. On the cab ride to their house, I had the most beautiful conversation with my Syrian taxi driver. He asked where I came from, what I did.

A teacher in New Orleans carries days worth of stories. (I like that.)

He asks me, Do I think Katrina is more affecting, or is war more affecting? What changes kids more: natural disasters or bombs, guns, warfare?

He’s clearly close to the subject.

I tell him that both affect the children in different ways. Katrina is a natural disaster, although the after-effects were also man made. But war is only man-made. It’s injury we inflict on one another. So both, but for different reasons. How do we as humans hurt our brothers and sisters?

I ask him what he thinks.

He tells me, when he was a child in Syria (since this has been going on for 60 years), he saw death and gore and war. Heads missing. Blood. Body parts blown off. He was just 10. And it changed him.

Of course.

I wish I could have recorded the conversation, although the conversation’s perfection exists in cab 86 alone.

He asks what stories of the kids I know.

I tell him some. Floating on air mattresses, losing your mother, wading through water for miles and seeing your siblings being carried in an empty, floating refrigerator, living with no food for 5 days with 20 people, your mom not even looking for you for 2 years, thinking she’s dead. I share with him, but speak tenderly and respectfully of my kids, for it’s their stories I share.

He tells me his heart hurts with what I say to him because he went through hell, too. He lived through war, too. He was changed as a child, too, and will always suffer the effects.

When he dropped me off, he got out of the car to tell me a story about always getting speeding tickets on I-70 between Denver and Salina. He had to get out. Too many gestures to stay seated. I bid him good night and told him I would be thinking about his kids, his family still in Syria living in a war torn country, struggling to survive. Literally. To survive.

And once again I am reminded how how lucky I am. And you.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sindy Dominick permalink
    May 24, 2013 9:18 pm

    I always knew you were a unique and special person Sunny. Giving voice to this gentlemans and your students life experience and the “Profound” way it affects the rest of their lives while on your way to welcome a new life in your own family.

  2. June 13, 2013 10:33 am

    I like this.

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