We were on our way to Damascus. I had hardly slept the previous night - too busy being enthralled in the old city of Jerusalem - and getting lost in the process. It also didn't help having excess adrenaline coursing through my veins in anticipation of being shot in the head by one of the many armed Israeli guards at the various checkpoints. I had never felt so alive. And so terrified at the same time.
I spent most of the following day staring out the window, watching the landscape change ever so slightly. Don McLean's Vincent echoed in the distance, with the earphones left abandoned on my shoulders... not something someone in my generation would usually listen to, I heard someone comment. I've always been an old soul - or so I've been told.
And most of the journey was engaged in conversation with an adolescent - trying to use my acquired wisdom to extinguish the flames of his teenage angst. He was a close friend of the family and I was really trying to help him through some of his issues.
Damascus was incredible. Not particularly aesthetically pleasing, but absolutely ethereally beautiful and vibrant - in a way that words fail to describe. It left me perpetually breathless with delight. We walked through the city during the day and trawled through the market places at night.
On my final evening in the city, days without sufficient sleep had finally caught up with me. After having savoured the midnight air, I retired to my room on the 4th floor without the knowledge that my young friend was in some trouble. He had been involved in a skirmish with a few of the other juvenile delinquents staying at the hotel, and subsequently became quite emotional.
It began on the 2nd floor, some time after midnight...
"Azra... AAZZZRRRAAA... I neeeeed yooouuu... AZRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!, I need youuuuuuuuuu"
Curled up in a ball in the corner of the room, he wailed streetcar-named-desire style for some time. It went on and on until everyone up on the 5th and 6th floors could hear him.
It is perhaps both a combination of my exhaustion, and a gift from God, that I didn't hear him that night. I was both somewhat mortified and hysterical with laughter when I heard a detailed account of the story as it unfolded, the following morning at breakfast. We still laugh about it today.
I'd like to thank the Pretzel Thief for her award. I am quite honoured. And I know that she can relate to this story :)