Saturday, August 12, 2006
Gross ?? I know, but I have to...
My previous post made so much commotion.
I am no war monger and I am no gun runner.
I felt sad !!
I felt bad !!
I am never for guns and never willing to compramise that priciple.
I believe that guns are terror and I believe that guns are horror.
Are you talking about war on innocents that started with in a short span ?
Are you talking about war on femine, war on poverty, war on thuggery ???
This is about a war on poor people, poverty sticken, undernourished and destituted.
This is also about woman and children, about blood and bones, food and medicine, real guns and gun powder.
This is about 22 years of relentless war. I don't know if any won the war, but I know who are the loosers.
I am neither a politician nor a self made messiah.
But I point out injustice if it is possible to do so.
I am not a citizen of the country in which I am working now.
Most of you already grasped from media reports that in some part of this country, life and property are not safe at all.
I am working here for almost three years and I would say that I was never threatened any where; logically so, because I have not visited the whole country.
When the present job was offered to me, I was afraid to come here due the media reports of atrocities. I also had the impression that, the war that was going on here is something to do with religion. After spending some time it has become quite clear that it is not so. Just like Nigeria, this country also is plagued by the tribe conflicts. With my limited knowledge, I am not going in to the issue, as I don’t want to argue on matters that I don’t know for sure.
But, this writing is not about politics but is about humanity and common sense. This is about innocent lives being punished just by the ignorance of others.
Today I want to introduce a woman to you… a Sudanese woman whose name I will not disclose. I will call her just ‘Xyz’ to avoid a misunderstanding about the names.
Let us call her Xyz.
I met her one day by accident, that too I don’t like to disclose due to a specific request by people involved.
In a crowd of people, she was sitting in a corner with lifeless eyes, alone and aloof.
I asked for a volunteer's help to explain all about her to my Sudanese companion. Her temporary village was on my way to one of my locations. My companion took notes on the detials.
She is 35 years old and I met her soon at her village during an assignment at a nearby area.
When I met her, I noticed that she was limping slightly and looked like a sick woman.
My guide and companion was with me. They chatted for a while I was introduced.
I asked her what happened to her legs and for a moment she hesitated to reply. With a gesture of resignation, she sat in the nearby chair.
“Did you ask me what is wrong with me, sir?” I thought I sensed a challenge in her voice which needs to be clarified in the beginning itself. So I moved near her chair.
“Yes I did” but I added immidiatly to explain,
“Look, Xyz ! I am not here from your Government and I am not here to make money.
Remember that I am here to listen to you and I don’t make money from writing up stories about you. I heard part of your story from some one else, but I need to hear it from you, so keep that edge from you voice.”
I told my guide to explain it to her in case she can’t grasp my Middle East Arabic.
She immediately apologised for her behaviour.
“Do you know about the law and order situation before a couple of years ?” she softened her voice.
“Not really… not more than what I heard from other people”
“Then you better take a look at this” she raised her dress to her knee level.
“Do you know what it is” she was more emotional this time.
“Yes, but you tell me” I knew the answer.
“This is a gunshot, sir! And I have another one where I can’t show you” she was almost remorseful.
“They are gunshot wounds already operated and treated, but a good many parts of the bullets remain inside and the doctors are unable remove.” she went grim in the face as if resigned of her worries.
“I am sorry about it, but could you tell me about it” I wanted to continue the talk or else she become more emotional.
“Sure I can, but I don’t think that it will not give me back my health or my husband.” she said in a matter of fact tone.
“What about your husband? Is he too injured?” though I knew the answer, I wanted some thing to say.
“I lost him when I needed him most” She was so sad.
“But you showed me a man and told me that he is your husband” the volunteer didn’t say that to me.
“Sure he is, but he is my second husband. Fortunately there were no children at the time when I was shot at, and so no issues”. true, I thought myself.
“I hate any one pitying me; but that doesn’t fetch my food.
That poor man felt pity on me and married me.” logic was with her.
This made me to ask more about the incident.
She said it’s a long storey and asked me if I need a coffee before she starts narrating it.
I declined because I suspected that the village water to be contaminated.
She was married at the age of 24, since then she was staying in this village with her husband who was working in the nearby market.
That was a time when the civil war was on and killing and looting by armed groups were rampant.
The end result was same …woman and children were always at the receiving end.
One day in a summer, in the middle of the night there was a commotion out side her grass hut…of men shouting and woman and children crying.
A mob of men smashed her bamboo door and barged in. They carried new guns, knifes and machetes and she saw blood in their glistening knifes, daggers.
They caught her husband amid her cries and protests. He was taken out mercilessly and shot at point blank range and when she protested she was shot at close range. She doesn’t remember anything else.
When she opened her eyes fifteen days later and she was in a hospital in a critical care ward.
She came to know that she was alone in the third month, when her mind started functioning normal.
She also came to know that 31 people died on that night and many women and children injured seriously like her
She spent 6 months in the hospital with a numb heart and helpless fury at no one.
Her wound took time to heel. But the wound inside her refused to heal.
She had two major wounds, one in her hip and the other in the knee.
While she showed her injured knee joint, I was looking for her knee and finally she had to tell where her knee was.
She came out from the hospital with metallic crutch.
Three months later she exchanged her crutch for a limp, when she realized that neither she can do any work with a crutch, nor any will feed her free.
Mm Xyz in front of her straw hut with her wounds
The soldier who is now her husband might be married many times prior, but he gave her shelter and comfort and they got married.
A month later she could work no more. Her pain in her back and hip made her to stay at home. Her knee becomes heavy when she walks and refuses to support her weight and buckles.
She now moves with a stick and she can’t work.
I was speechless when she showed me all the wounds… all cured, yet she can’t walk because of the pain.
The Doc says that they can’t do anything other than advising her to undergo special surgery, but that too with no guarantee of success.
When asked for consent to take pictures, she was about to ask, if she will get some money but I said ‘no’ before she opened her mouth and she smiled.
I explained that I don’t work with any charity but I can write in the internet to let others know, not forgetting to remind her again that there is no money involved.
Finally when I was about to leave with my guide who too was a villager, she told me that she has a message for others.
She didn't forget to sincerely apologise again for the edge in her voice earlier.
She told me that she wants to tell all, that war is bad, fighting is very bad and that it is a horror for woman like her. She was silent for a moment, then she added with grim face that she doesn’t hate the people who did it.
She told me some thing very touchy at the end… until this moment, she doesn’t know who they were and have no idea why the mob killed him and wounded her.
Here again, at a time when war mongers are being applauded for being brave, I would like to ask if anyone will see the world of so many hapless Xyz(s) ?
The seriousness becomes apparent, when you realise that this war continued for 22 years.
To those who fought and won, my question is how many Xyz(s) were perished in the process and how many saved? Who lost ?
I have read stories of wars, where soldiers are killed, an eye for an eye, but were these woman and children ever been soldiers ? Or mere lambs for slaughter ???