Into Comanche Territory*

That night, I walked down to our little supermarket to buy cigarettes. The men at the counter pointed at my jeans and asked why I was so dirty. I said “al-Bara,” and pointed vaguely towards the north. I think they understood.

An old man pulled up a chair and sat right next to me while we smoked in silence. His sleeve was touching mine.  The shopkeeper came out and handed me a little bottle of orange juice. He’d opened it for me and had put in a straw. There was something about this gesture that broke me. I just looked at the ground and started crying. I didn’t try to hide it. It was the first time in a while I’d felt normal.

(I almost died in Syria –

Olly Lambert went into Syria’s Comanche Territory, to live from both sides what was happening in the Orontes River Valley… his work is reproduced in this PBS Frontline Documentary:

Syria: behind the lines

It’s been aired on TV  some weeks ago, and the images are still from 2012 but it’s still enough to notice how things work when a civilised secular country ruled by an iron fist for decades splits into pieces and falls into atavism, anarchy and the most basic and primitive confrontation. Neighbour vs neighbour, brother vs brother. A time when a person stops being considered as a person and becomes a number you add to the fighting lines, on your side or against you: A Civil War.

Things have gone much worse by  now…

mirasol terricomanche

(Art: Alex Mirasol)

(*) “For a reporter in a war, Comanche Territory is where instinct tells you to stop the car and go back, a place where always seems about to dusk while you walk close to the walls, towards the shots in the distance, hearing the sound of your footsteps on broken glass.

War floor is always covered with broken glasses. Comanche Territory is where you hear them crunching under your boots, and although you do not see anybody, you know you are being watched. ”

(Arturo Pérez-Reverte, “Territorio Comanche”, 1994)

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