Panicked screams reach us from the street below. We rush to the balcony and lean over to see two young boys, eight or nine years old, running as though their lives depend on it. We can make out another word, “Abba”, and we try to piece together the situation. “Hatzilu, Abba…”
My heart starts racing as I imagine the poor father, stuck in the wadi, maybe stabbed and bleeding, or around the bend, trapped in a mangled car, and the adrenaline begins to flow so I can save him.
Before I have a chance to give it another thought, a car pulls up. “Abba” jumps out, hale and hearty, along with a robust woman in a house coat. I stop in my tracks, not sure how to understand this new twist, and I see my husband’s face drop, down three stories to the boys below and way down under into his past. I suddenly know what’s about to happen and yet, I cannot turn my eyes away.
The father runs after the boys. They go in two direction and he focuses on the one on the right. The boy to the left starts screaming as he sees his father close in on his brother.
“DON”T TOUCH HIM!!! DON”T TOUCH HIM!!! PLEASE!!”
His English is perfect, and I realize with growing dread that I will now witness the sights and sounds of this awful scene with no imperfect translations in the way.
The father tackles the boy to the ground. He has him in a choke hold. The boy is struggling, but only for a minute. He seems to know he cannot win. His brother submits quickly and easily, allowing the mother to shove him into the car. They are both held down in the backseat and I hear words shouted at them from the wretched woman. Words such as these should not come so smoothly from the mouth of a mother to her children’s ears and straight into their vulnerable hearts.
We are standing there, not sure what, if anything, we can do. The neighbor is on the phone with the police. They don’t understand that he wants them to come save the boys. They think he is making a noise complaint. They never end up coming.
We watch the car drive away, realizing that it was only three minutes; too short to do anything, and too long to do nothing.
We go inside. My husband is still a long way from here, in the hell that was, and I don’t know how to get him back. He is angry at himself. He wishes he had gone down. He wishes he had pulled the man off his son. He wishes he had given him his just desserts.
We make a phone call to the neighborhood watch. The man only speaks Hebrew and we didn’t really know what to say anyway.
We sit in silence.
Eventually, my husband decides to go downstairs on the pretense of looking for some sort of clue. Maybe the man dropped something.
I watch him from the balcony. He is experiencing the pain and fear with the boys in that spot. He is them.
He tells me how he heard the screams and knew, really KNEW the fear.
I am shivering inside as I try to comfort him.
My heart is with those boys now. I am bleeding for them. I want them to be loved so very badly. I want them to be safe. I want them to be happy and carefree. I want them to never have to scream out to be saved from the one person who is supposed to love and protect them.
There is nothing I can do for them now.
But I promise them, from the depths of their pain, there will be a salvation. They may never know of it, but I know now what we can do.
We will get ourselves on our feet. We will strengthen our family. And then we will open our home to those who need a safe place. We will provide love, attention and trust to children who are not born as lucky as we were.
I promise you boys, we will take care of them and think of you.
You have pierced our hearts with your screams and left your anguish as a permanent reminder in our souls.