I am excited. But I am sad too. I am excited and sad.
Today, Mama, Amina, Ayana and I make the journey out of this place. Amina and Ayana are my sisters. Amina is six and Ayana is three. I like Ayana more than I like Amina. Amina doesn’t respect me but Ayanna does. Like her name says, she is my Beautiful Blossom.
I am sad because the meaning of this is that Papa is not coming back. He left seven days ago to go to the capital to try and get some food for Ayana and the rest of us. We ran out of cornmeal and we couldn’t get more because there is no more food in this place. Many people have long since made the three day trek to the capital to try and get some. Those that still have some money have bought passage. But mama refused to let Papa go. We hear that the fighting there is really serious. When the food stopped coming into our village, we were lucky because we still had some and so Mama rationed it. When we started running out, she begged and pleaded with papa not to go. She did not want him to die in Mogadishu. She said that the government would resolve the issues and the fighting would stop before we totally ran out. Me, I was torn. I did not want Papa to go, but he is a man; we men have to be strong and provide for our family. Even when we ran out of food completely, mama still did not let him go. And then Ayana stopped moving. Papa left the next day.
Its seven days now and he has not returned. Last night, I was able to convince mama that if we stay here, we will die. You see, I have to be the man now and take care of them. Papa is gone. I want to cry but I will not. I cannot. I am a man. I convinced mama that we should go to Kenya. It is a bit far but I know some of our neighbors that have gone. I don’t know if they have reached but it is better than staying here. Our only other option to get food is to go to the capital but the fighting there is too much. I can fight and protect myself but I cannot protect the rest of my family because I have no weapon.
So today, we leave for Kenya. I will take the 300shillings and 37senti that I have been saving since my 9th birthday last year. It is not much at all. When Jamal left last month, he told me that his father had bought all of them passage with one hundred dollars. This is about thirty thousand shillings. But I will take along my bicycle and my football so that I can sell or exchange. We will start our journey on foot but if we see any vehicle, I will talk with the driver, man to man. Perhaps he will be kind.
Mama and Amina are weak but they can still walk. I will carry Ayana on my back. She still has not moved. Mama has tried to give her milk from her breasts but there is none. Every morning and evening, I put my face close to her nostrils so that I can feel her breath. This morning, I had to wait a while before I felt it. I was so afraid that she had left us.
I woke up very early this morning and decided to take a walk outside our village before we set out. I wanted to see if I could see anything on the ground or in any abandoned house that may be useful on our journey. It was as if the Gods smiled on us because after about 2hours, I have been able to gather 75shillings and a few items of clothing. This will definitely help us. As I make the long walk back, I am excited. Not even the rumbling of thunder can make me sad. I look up but the weather is not cloudy so I’m sure it will not rain. I have a feeling that things are about to get better for us. I begin humming to myself.
As I get nearer to our village, I see smoke rising. I do not understand this. Is someone cooking? Where did they get food from? I begin to walk faster. Before I know it, I am running. I enter the village and I cannot believe my eyes. It is not possible. I cannot stop running. I have to get to our house. I have to get Mama and my sisters out of there. I get to the front of our house and I stop. Our house is not where to used to be. Like the rest of the village, all I see in its place is fire and smoke and ash. Nothing else. It is then that I realize that the thunder was not thunder. I begin to look frantically around for mama and Ayana and Amina. I know they are hiding somewhere. But we have to leave for Kenya now if we want to make headway.
I continue to search for them and shout their names but they will not come. Do they not know that we have to hurry?
And then I see it. Ironically, it lies beside the thing that the medicine man gave us. He said it would protect us in case the fighting came to our side. That was a long time ago and Papa paid a lot of shillings for it.
I walk towards it slowly. I pick it up. Not the thing but Ayana’s little hand. It is covered in dirt and blood but I know it is hers. It still has the little cloth that I tied around it when she turned three. I promised her that one day I would buy her real gold bracelets. She had laughed that day as if she understood what I was saying.
I look at the hand and touch her tiny fingers. I look up and see a clear spot a few feet from where I am standing. I walk to it and begin to dig the ground with my hands. When I bury her hand, I will look around for a part of Mama and Amina so that I can do the same for them. My chest is choked up and tears want to come. But I cannot cry. I am a man. Where will I go now? I cannot cry. What will I do? I will not cry.
My name is Asad. The Lion. I will not cry.
Big Focus: Recent uprisings in the Arab world and the ongoing fighting in Somalia
‘Dania: So that’s the first one. If you have a Single Story please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
I won’t ask any specific writers but I’d like to call out a few great writers I know who don’t write as often as they should:
Evi Parker (@UncleJevi) Perhaps its time to let the ink flow again?
Mr Sawyer (@MallamSawyerr) Stop being lazy!
@Qurr Let the thoughts out of your head…
‘Jibola Lawal (@JibolaL) A certain Pearl something might fit into this, no? That’s if you finally get around to finishing it *rme*
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please read the intro here