Yuval Krausz

All Is Quiet

The silence is overwhelming.  There is no sound at all.  We are covered in a thick white blanket of snow.

I found it hard to believe, but we were in a tiny makeshift outpost, completely cut off from any supply and truly covered in about two meters of freshly fallen snow.  I had not seen snow like that since I lived in Peterborough, Ontario Canada.  I was not in Peterborough.  My platoon and I were closer to Damascus, Syria and the snow had been falling all night, and the next day.

It is very hard to find beauty on a battlefield.  Yet, there it was, crisp, clean snow, covering our tents, covering our position, covering us in a comforting blanket of momentary tranquility.  And silence.

Silence from the constant Syrian shelling.  They too were likely covered in that snowfall.  They couldn’t see us and they couldn’t find the range of their guns to harm us.

We shoveled snow into the empty fifty gallon drums, and we turned the propane burners on to melt the snow and we added more snow.  There was an abundance of snow and we kept shoveling.  The melted snow turned to water and the water became warm and we showered with warm water.  A luxury.  An even greater luxury, as the shower became a Japanese bath, with snow all around, and the pines of the surrounding woods created a Zen garden.

We kept watch, but no one came.  The snow was too deep.  Our supply trucks couldn’t supply us either.  We were a tiny island of solitude, in harmony with nature, during the most unimaginable horrific war.

My turn to post guard was almost over.  I trudged through the deep snow, laden down with my weapons, my ammunition, my starlight scope, my life.  It was night and the snow sparkled.  My boots began to make the faintest crunching sounds in the snow, and I finally reached the tiny outpost that our platoon had created.

I began to return the equipment, accounting for every piece.  An ammunition clip was missing.  I took a tiny lamp, we called it a “Beta Light”, a marker for vehicles that gave off a dim blue light and I began to backtrack, snow falling gently all around me.  If a sniper was to hit me, it would be wonderful to die right there in the beautiful white snow, to become one with this strange phenomenon of nature, no more than twenty kilometers from Damascus.

I found the ammunition clip, and headed back.

Two days went by, two days of calm, of silence.  Two days for conversing with my brothers-in-arms by the warmth of kerosene space heaters.  Two days of telling about our dreams to each other, what we would do when this would all be over.  Two days of forgetting, even for a few moments, that we had been attacked on Yom Kippur.  October 6th.  Shabbat.  At 2 p.m.  1973.

The snow began to melt.  The skies cleared.  The sun shone.  The silence was broken by the scream of an incoming Syrian shell, as their bombardment began anew.

About the Author
Born in Israel, Yuval emigrated as a baby to Austria and then Canada. He returned to live in Israel in '71 until '91. His military service was in Golani Brigade's 13th Battalion (including Yom Kippur War) with reserve duty as a tank commander and later a liaison officer in the IDF Liaison Unit. He now resides both in the US and Israel, Maryland and Zichron Yaakov respectively.
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