- 24 Jul - 30 Jul, 2021
DON’T KILL ME
- 13 Jul - 19 Jul, 2019
I guess she thinks that I’ve already been polluted and traumatised far sooner than my age allowed and now protecting me is senseless. I’ve seen bloodshed at close quarters. I’ve seen dismembered body parts lying rotting in the streets. During the night I heard Maria’s mumbled cries when the guerrillas came to get her and dragged her into the bushes. We found her dead body thrown into the thorns and her eyes wide open in horror. All the women around me began to cry when they saw her. Strangely, I felt nothing. I touched her open palm and felt the icy cold of a body whose life was sucked out of it too soon and too painfully. I wanted to be like her when I grew up. With her beautiful green eyes and flowing black hair and enchanting smile; but not anymore. Not today. Today she was nothing to anyone but a dead, ugly corpse. A body shamed and a soul freed; sadly everyone around was debating if her soul went to heaven or hell. I personally felt that wherever it went it would be a happy soul. At least it didn’t need to suffer this life anymore.
Some days were better than others. The UN relief workers would come and take us to shelters and provide us with the stuff mandatory to survive. And medicines and good food to eat. But once they would leave we would move back to our dilapidated houses and make shift arrangements. The tattered tents and the plastic containers and stoves would either corrode or simply vanish. At times the guerrillas would chase us away the minute the troops left and we would be left to deal with our own devices.
Mom knew better now. She would take all the necessary things from the relief workers and spirit me away during the first few nights of their arrival and take me back to our own “home”. She knew the drill well. So we always had a good supply of food and clean water to drink for a good many days. She often went hungry when our rations were low and fed me well to keep me going.
“You’re the future Amira. I will die but you will live on and you will see a peaceful world soon.”
She would often keep my spirit alive in this way. Honestly no one knew who would die or live, who would be dragged away into death in the middle of the night or be marred for life. No one knew.
But I smiled when she talked to me like this. At least she saw some hope in me and she was happy for a millisecond, for a minutest spark of the day. Her eyes lit up and she looked beautiful. She was the best part of my life. My only part of life that I enjoyed.
This war did more than anyone could imagine. For some it ate away the moral code of their being. Several young men, boys who in pre-war times would be called decent were now behaving like pirates; feeding off other people’s property and what could be called their wealth. Choosing to kidnap young girls to become their sex slaves rather than marrying them. There was no one left to stop them. No proper system or moral code that could restore society’s delicate fabric back to its original condition.
In a way I felt that being stripped of all material and social bonds we could now stand before our Maker in our most honest version. We had the chance to sin at our finger tips and if we were denying ourselves anything that was evil then it meant that we were in fact completely worthy of God’s love and approval, without any doubt. That is why I wasn’t afraid to die. If I died today I would go straight to heaven and in God’s arms. I had waited long enough. So either it was death or to be rescued for good. I couldn’t take this life anymore.
But no miracle happened the next day either or the day after. Mom told me that there were peace talks taking place, someone from a neighboring village had brought this good news to us but I was weary of these few glimmers of hope. No one cared about us and there would be no peace coming soon. The only peace I found was when I finally slept exhausted every night and then woke up to the sound of explosions the next day.
I am Amira. I am Kashmiri, I am Syrian, I am Afghani, I am Sudanese, I am Rwandan, I am Lebanese, I am Palestinian, I am Korean, I am Iraqi, I am Iranian, I am innocent and yet I suffer.
During the last decade, it is estimated that 2 million children have ben killed in the war-ridden countries, 4-5 million are disabled, 12 million left homeless, more than 1 million orphaned or separated from their parents and some 10 million are psychologically traumatised.
This story is dedicated to all the children, women and men who have lost their lives in wars or are still suffering at the hands of cruel political regimes; fighting, killing or genocide. •