Does it matter what language you use?
Nabil reclined on a mattress on the floor with his mother and his six-year-old nephew, Ahmed. Nabil was trying to make funny faces to lighten their mood, to counteract the gloom that spilled over them as bomb blasts filled their ears. Nabil’s sister, Sarah, came in with a sandwich and a cup of milk for her son, Ahmed. She had mixed up the milk powder with more water than usual. Who knew when they’d be able to get to the supermarket again? Or whether there would be any milk on the shelves when they did. Ahmed didn’t seem to mind. He gulped down the milk in spite of its watery taste.
“Allah!” Sarah exclaimed as a nearby explosion rocked the building.
Although many families were trying to escape the bombing by fleeing to another town, most of Nabil’s neighbours had nowhere to go. Even if they did, they couldn’t afford to leave. It was rumoured that taxi drivers, the only ones who really knew the roads well enough to navigate the hazardous route quickly, were charging ten times the normal fare to drive people out of the city. That would be almost a month’s salary for Nabil.
Sarah felt overwhelmed. She flopped down on the cushions and began to weep loudly. “Pull yourself together! Be strong for the sake of the child!” her mother told her.
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