From the poem it is understand a rocket had landed on the roof of the hotel, destroying the room above mine ………


I sat there for what seemed like a very long time, drinking in the tranquillity, totally oblivious to anything outside of myself. Other events may have occurred, but they failed to penetrate my consciousness. It was a dreamlike state, yet my awareness was crystal clear. Finally the time came to methodically check my body for possible injury or even death. The total lack of fear was intriguing as I pondered the possibility of the worst out- come. A feeling of total acceptance had enveloped me and I couldn’t help being completely absorbed in it. Why should I taint it with the news of being dead? It was with almost humorous curiosity that I began to check the different parts of my body … celebrating one by one that they were still intact.

Slowly from somewhere in the distance I started to hear a faint chuckle. The sound grew louder as I became more aware of my surroundings. Henry, an ex soldier I was sharing the room with, was laughing his head off. Before long we were both rolling around in absolute rapture, marveling at fate and the near miss that had left us unscathed. I was amused to find that the light in the room still worked. The half-twisted wire hung like a dead snake, limply protruding from the broken plaster of the ceiling. When I switched it on our eyes met, setting off another round of convulsions. My belly became sore from all the exuberant laughter. The room was largely undamaged except for the ceiling and pieces of plaster all over the floor. Obviously, the rocket had only penetrated the room above.

While we lay on our beds panting, another question arose. Where was his girlfriend? When I voiced it Henry’s face shifted from laughter to curiosity. We looked around the room for any sign of her. Finally we looked under his bed and there she was, lying in foetal position, knees pulled up to her chest, quivering with fear. Henry struggled for composure as he helped her out, yet found it hard to stop another fit of laughter. I crept out of the room because I couldn’t contain myself. At the end of the corridor, at a safe hearing distance from the room, I broke into more throes of laughter, rolling around on the tiled floor. A full five minutes later I returned to find her sitting on the bed in relative composure, her long black hair dishevelled, partly covering shiny trails of tears lining her face. Henry’s arm was around her shoulder in genuine sympathetic support.

On seeing my face he could no longer contain himself. Again raucous laughter bellowed from both of us. His girlfriend soon joined in and the three of us celebrated our continuing existence with heartfelt laughter. In that instant, I felt a deep connection to them. I cannot speak for them but that was my experience. It was like all three of us had known each other for years. All masks of society were stripped away leaving childlike innocence exposed. Although born out of danger and survival, for me these rare moments have been precious. They are perhaps the reason that men go to war — not to harm people and destroy, but to open a part of themselves that would otherwise remain shut.