Day seven: Starry Night

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Translation: Teresa Galarza

(Versión en español aquí)

Shortcuts. On the shoulders of a country at war

Fotografía de Ricard García Vilanova.

Like in the rearguard, in the front of Raqqa it is usual to sleep on the roofs of houses. You should take some basic precautions such as not smoking, lighting a flashlight or using a phone. Commander Botan repeats this to the eight men under his command, but none take him too seriously. The monster uses drones that drop bombs, but tonight these are unequivocally American; they know it because of the noise, less strident than those of the enemy.

Rawand raps to the beat of Lebanese hip hop from his phone, Firaz eats sunflower pipes from a tray and all of them smoke. At 7 o’clock in the evening, just after sunset, the first bomb drops a few hundred meters away. A dog barks; Rawand continues rapping and Firaz with his pipes. 20 bombs later, the first bomb that for a moment interrupts the routine of every night falls. “That one was big,” someone says. “Fuck them,” responds somebody else.

The sky is beautiful on this night of shooting stars. “One, two, three …” the distracted fighters count, pointing at them with hands that we can only notice because of their lit cigarettes. Then we hear the dragon coming. “Apache,” someone says, referring to the American helicopter above our heads. We do not see it because it flies without lights, but they say that it comes every night.

The next explosion —we stopped counting after forty— makes the walls resound under our roof. The dog barks and Rawand continues doing his thing, like Firaz. The monster’s children shoot the sky with an anti-aircraft weapon. Red tracer bullets rise impotent to the dragon’s wrath; not only do they not graze him, but they reveal their own position.yihad

The Apache does not take a minute to reduce everything to rubble. We do not see it, but we hear it. For a moment, we have felt compassion for them, but it has been a very fleeting space of time.

Like the shooting stars.

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