There is blood on these streets if you look carefully. Those who do not look carefully step on people’s blood as they walk. I think it is bad to step on people’s blood especially since they are dead. There are lots of dead people in this country: I think about that sometimes when I have not had food to eat in days. Thinking about it helps me not to feel too sad about having nothing to eat. How can I feel sad because I am hungry when people are dead and their bloods are being stepped on? This clime smells like smoke, like something that is burning, but we are used to it. Almost always, there are houses burning, cars burning; many times with people in it. Things are not too bad, although. On alternate days the big, white ‘UN’ truck that has a couple of blue feathers drawn under a net-like ball, bring us food.
I learnt about the UN from school. Our school is not the same as it used to be. A missile landed on it two months ago. On that day, I did not go and that is why I am alive. Everybody that went died. Their bodies were seared, melted as if they were wax from a burning candle stick. Talatu’s mother could not identify her. She and her husband packed an amount of debris into a wooden casket and buried it to represent her amidst tears and unbearable pain. My mother said that was also how my father was killed and was buried. She said some white people from countries faraway sent a plane with a missile where my father worked. The missile landed and even though it killed many rebels, it also killed many civilians, like my father. She could not find my father’s remains so she packed some debris into a wooden casket and buried it.
Our school is under a Neem tree now and our teacher is a woman’s voice from the radio, she calls herself Miss Kimberly. She teaches us English language and French sometimes and she tells us that the UN, who she works for, is trying to help us. But I don’t like this method of teaching because there are no rooms for questions. She has funny pronunciations and so it is difficult to understand some things she says. I wish we could get our old school back where we can ask our teachers questions and understand their pronunciations. I prefer our old school.
Today, for the first time in my life, I saw fear. It was sadness mixed with anxiety and then somewhere underneath, mixed with hope also. It was not exactly what I expected. I have heard a few times that fear is a bad thing, but when I saw it today, it did not look bad, in fact, it looked quite the opposite. It looked as though it had no choice, it looked natural, it looked pitiable, even. I saw fear in a photograph; a photograph of some girl. She was young, maybe four or five. They said she lived in one of the camps somewhere with her mother close to the border. The border is where the rebels and the soldiers exchange bullets and bombs on close to a daily basis. She probably thought the cameraman was one of the soldiers or one of the rebels or an assailant of some unknown variety. She raised her hands up in surrender and the look on her face was fear, defined. I wanted to cry not because of fear exactly, more because of what she had become due to fear, of what fear had turned her into. At first, she reminded me of myself a few years ago when I was her age. But I was never so fearful. It is not that I was more mature at her age than she is now. It is that the war has ravaged us so much that these days, our constant companion is fear in its most unadulterated form. It is that when I was her age, I did not know fear in the immense degree that I know it now. It is that those years ago when I was five, we needed not to fear cameramen imagining that their cameras were weapons to hurt. It is that our peace has disappeared and war has taken its place. It is that there is blood on these streets and children stepping on it.
The pictures above had such profound effects on me. I had to write a story on. It truly is unfortunate what society is doing to the children.
Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!