It is an exceptionally hot day in Jerusalem
is hot in the summer, but today is exceptionally hot. So hot that your trousers
stick to your legs, and the loud merchants
of the market are too hot to shout. And that IS hot. The smell of sweat and falafel and cumin
fills the air, and I find myself temporarily sticking to people as I pass them, in search of tomatoes.
I step behind a cart and begin to haggle with a merchant, when all of a sudden a loud 'BOOM' rocks the entire street. No one has any doubts or misconceptions about it. A bomb has just gone off. And it's the third one in two years to go off in this exact market. You might expect a few seconds of silence after the explosion, where the understanding of what just happened kicks in, but understanding kicks in all too quickly, and before the explosion dies down, already the street is full of screams and cries. There were about 50 metres between me and the bomb, so, with all the people in the way, I am uninjured. Then a window above me shatters and sends pieces of glass flying down all around me, cutting my arms in places. Nothing serious.
I look around, to see if there's anyone I can help right around me, but there isn't, and a couple of ambulances are already at the scene of the bomb. Sometimes there are two bombs that go off one after another close to one another. So it's not a good idea to stick around, especially if I can't help. So I go to my car.
When I'm about 10 metres from my car, I see a young Arab. He is about 16 and he's absolutely terrified. He's just been spotted by a crowd of people looking for revenge. Revenge is quick and swift, and extremely violent, and he looks for which way to run, as about 10 men come towards him. One of them even has a knife.
Now I'm not going to fight 10 men, so I shout to him to get into my car, unlock it and start the engine. He doesn't know whether he can trust me, and stalls for a second. But he sees the alternative, and quickly ducks into my car. Fortunately, it's a side street, and not completely blocked off by traffic standing still, so I can get away, in a shower of rocks.
I drive him home. I know it's stupid, driving into an arab neighbourhood like that. The looks that my Israeli license plates get confirm my fears. But (maybe because they see him in the car), nothing happens, and I bring him home.
Arab hospitality is famous around the world. They say that once you're their guest, even if you are their biggest enemy, you will be treated with utmost respect. He asks me in, and in I go. There is an expected amount of humdrum, though I can't understand all the arabic, and I am seated in an old and green sofa. I am served tea and baklava, and there really isn't much talking. Finishing my tea, I get up to leave. The father shakes my hand, and the boy says he'd better take me out of the neighbourhood.
He does, and we say goodbye.
This has been a simonc challenge.