Sunday, May 31, 2009

No whistling, please

You never get used to hearing grenades. The sound they make I still carry with me.

The launching of a grenade makes a popping sound, like a champagne bottle cap popping, only a thousand times stronger. Then there is a brief moment of silence, as if to tease your brain into thinking the pop came from some other source.

Then the whistle sound starts creeping in, very faint at first and then increasingly louder and louder. You can assume the direction the missile is going by this sound. Like with thunder, you can guess how close it's going to hit.

By this time, all your senses are focused on this high pitch noise and anticipating its inevitable ending in the explosion. You know it's coming. You can't help but pause all your thoughts for a brief moment until you know the ending.

And then the BOOM happens.

You actually feel a sense of relief that the anxious wait is over. The roaring sound still lingers, the building may be shaking, and the sirens are usually blaring. But your mind is released from the temporary freeze.

The two seconds are over and you can go about your day.

Most people who lived through a war may never get used to the whistling sound a grenade makes. For years after the war the kids in Sarajevo would do pranks in the public transportation and make the low-to-high whistle sound somewhere from the back. You could see an instant tension on peoples' faces; their minds locked for a moment to process the sensation and link it to reality. Some would duck, some look out the window, and others just freeze. Those kids would usually be thrown off of the vehicle at the next stop.

I am still easily startled by similar sounds, and flinch when people or objects suddenly appear from the behind.

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