Monday, May 16, 2011

Bullets bursting in air...

Just after falling asleep last night, it started.    --Gunfire. Lots of it.  

Pop. Bang. Blast. Whir. Blam.

In an attempt to calm my racing heart, I chuckled weakly to myself and thought of Sabet's warnings earlier this week.

"Remember," he said while speaking to all the expats, "this weekend marks the anniversary of the SPLA (Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army). There will be lots of gunfire and celebrating in the streets. Do not be alarmed."

Then he proceeded to recount the night of May 16th, a few years back, when several visitors were staying at the compound. These hard-core military types, heard the shooting, took cover under their beds and prayed like mad. They stayed that way for several hours, until the bravest decided to crawl, military style, the hundred yards necessary to knock on Sabet's door.

"Hey, Sabet! We're under attack!" 

Apparently, the pounding on his tin door had the effect the bullets lacked, and Sabet jerked out of a dead sleep. Yawning and rubbing sleep from his eyes, Sabet told the man it was 'only SPLA day', and that he and his friends had nothing to worry about; it was the Sudanese way of celebrating!

To this day, they all still laugh about it.

This being my first SPLA day, I wasn't sure what to expect. What would it sound like to hear the whistle of bullets scream for the sky? Would I even notice over the drone of my fan?

Well, let me tell you... I noticed!

I noticed it at 1 am. It sounded like fireworks --No, like balloons popping. Then, I noticed it at 3 am, and again at 3:30 am.       

Bang. Boom. POP-pop-POP.

"Stupid bullets," I grumbled to my pillow, "stupid guns."

By 5 am, the sporadic pop-POP-pop of the AK-47, jerked me from a fitful dream and I rolled over angrily. "How do these gun-wielding wackos expect anyone to work in the morning?"

Sigh.

At 6 am, the gun blasts started anew. However, this time, it was right outside my window. All I could think was, "Whoop-dee-do, It's SPLA day! Now give it a rest."

By 7:30, when I was called for a birth, the gunfire was over, but my day had just begun.
          -- It was a 10 cups-of-coffee-before-noon kind of day.

Here's to hoping for a good night's sleep! 

To learn more about life and politics in Southern Sudan. 
Here are a few interesting link:
The official website of the SPLA 
SPLA found on Wikipedia.
The Sudan Tribune.