Sunday, 20 February 2011
Chapter 37 The boy with the sad eyes
Akka is only about 30 minutes by train away from Haifa but a different world from the chilled out city we left behind.
Passing through the metal detectors feels just a little more serious than in Haifa.
On the street people’s faces seemed more drawn. Weary even.
It didn’t help that the day was gloomy and fairly chilly lending itself to the depressing atmosphere.
We were on our way to the Al Jazzar Wall in Old Akka. It’s a massive stone structure with a moat dating back to 1799. It now acts as a divider between Akka’s Arab and Israeli populations.
About 10 minutes out from the station we passed a run down, fast food type restaurant with chickens roasting outside. Immediately we lost a member of our group to the promise of meat sandwiches.
As we waited for him outside I noticed a young boy staring at me from the restaurant terrace.
He was a teenager, sitting alone at a table waiting for his mother and siblings. No more than 15. Dark skinned and dark haired with surprisingly light eyes.
I looked back at him.
We stared at each other in silence for a moment. His eyes didn’t waver. His face etched with misery.
So taken by the sadness in his gaze, I was momentarily startled when a shout in Hebrew came from a bus full of Israelis. As the bus passed the restaurant a young teenage boy stuck his hand through the window, accompanying his yelling with an obscene gesture.
I looked back at the boy with the sad eyes. His shoulder seemed to slump a little bit further.
As his mother joined him on the terrace our friend found his way back out to the street and we continued on.