The sheikh of the village said he expected an attack that night. I wondered if these newspeople really understood that a New York Times press pass would not help them unless it happened to be bulletproof. Nick was very casual when I told him we should not unpack too much, and not set up our beds too far from the Land Cruiser. He was as casual as if he always slept in villages under attack.
We could hear shooting in the distance. The sheikh warned me that the trees surrounding the village probably hid some Janjaweed watching us -- shots had been fired from their earlier.
I should have mentioned that to Nick, but I didn't want him to smile at me again like I was such a worrier. Besides, there was nothing we could do except be ready to move quickly, which was my job, not his.
The three of them rolled out their sleeping bags while the driver and I talked to the sheikh. The Americans had little flashlights on headbands to help them get their sleeping bags just right. The sheikh pointed to the trees of the wadi again and said I should say something about the headlamps; he said the little lights were saying, Please shoot me in the head. Maybe I should have said something to Nick about this, but I decided they would be finished soon and lying down, which was true.
In such situations, of which this was not the first, I preferred to stay awake. The driver and I talked quietly and ate sardines from tins. In the middle of the night, automatic rifles and RPG fire came very close and woke up the sleeping campers, who seemed afraid.
I look at Nick like You are such a worrier. I told them to go back to sleep, that the fighting was still two villages away. Even so, the driver and I stayed awake and counted the seconds between the RPG flashes and their noise.
The next morning we were still alive. After tea we drove to the next village, which had been attacked in the night but had defended itself and survived.
As shared by Daoud Hari in The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur