With its main entrance in Israel, and its far wall in Jordan, the dilapidated old people's home, originally a luxurious mansion, towered over the neighborhood of Mamila. With falling walls and alleyways blocked by piles of debris, it was not the neighborhood of choice.
On summer days, when snipers would hide from the punishing sun and not attempt to shoot the occasional passers-by, the old people would open the metal shutters that protected their large window, and sunbath. It was on one of these days that Mathilda, suffering from a cough attack, had dropped her teeth to the ground below. This would not have been a problem if it were not for the fact that the teeth fell in the no-man-zone between the countries. The old people, crowding at the window, watched the unfolding of events as the army on both sides and the United Nation were summoned.
First to arrive in an open Jeep was an unshaved Israeli Colonel. He was followed by a United Nations car – the one that looks like a white funeral car with big black UN written on it. Soldiers rushed out of the white car and opened the door for an officer, who moved with a puffed chest, as if he owned the border. None of the old people in the window had ever seen so many medals sparkling on a single chest, and a cacophony of animated arguments, pushes and shoves, erupted over what they were for, and how he could move his legs in such overly starched trousers.
The UN officer approached the fence and talked with the Israeli Colonel, until a convoy arrived from the Jordanian side. A Jordanian General emerged from an armored car and approached the fence. With shouting and a great deal of hand movements, the sides communicated over the many rolls of barbwire that separated the countries. Eventually, the three sent their soldiers to stand back, while they started moving the wires aside, making their way towards each other through the slippery dirt. As they didn't have gloves on, it was a painful job, and the occasional rude word turned into a flood when the UN officer spotless uniform got caught in the barbwire and ripped. He was French.
When they finally found the teeth stuck deep in the mud, a new discussion erupted. The Jordanian General pointed his walking staff at the soldiers and then at the teeth and back at the soldiers. The UN officer, clearly upset, argued vehemently. The Israeli Colonel, ignoring the two, simply bent forward, plucked the teeth from the mud and waved them triumphantly. On both sides, everyone cheered and clapped. That is, everyone except for the UN officer. He was still in a foul mood, shouting at his poor soldiers even when they drove off.”
The old people secured back the metal shutters. One by one they reclined on their straw mattresses in the room lit by a single dim yellow bulb. They were happy. That night they would have something to dream about.