We got to know that the previous experience was just like rehearsals a week later when SARS officers came in their large numbers killing and destroying anyone and anything in sight. This was sudden and unexpected and it was a situation of every man for himself. How long you would stay alive depended on how fast your legs could carry you. I just finished cooking my favorite; Egusi soup when mum came running in. She told me to take Gracy and the food and run. She had to pick some things for us. Were were to run into a nearby plantation and wait for her inside a hut. I told her we were going nowhere without her. She got angry and I just had to leave with my sister and the soup silently praying for mum’s safety. The deafening sound of gunshots and cries gave us more energy to run. All I had my mind on was seeing mum safe, so I didn’t notice the big stone ahead. I went flying to the ground and the soup I carried splashing all over me. I was lucky it was no longer hot. Gracy picked up a piece of meat from my skirt saying “mum is so so going to kill you today” before throwing it into her month. I rolled my eyes and asked “you mean if we survive this?” The sound of a gunshot brought us back to reality as we continued the race for our lives. We got to the hut in no time. That was when I realized waiting was a very difficult task.
“Move out!” it was a man standing outside the hut pointing a gun at us. I have never been so terrified in my life! I came out with Gracy hiding behind me. Mum came out from nowhere , she was struggling with the man for the gun. “Run! Run!” she screamed. I didn’t want to leave her again, but I had to obey for my sister’s life was at stake too. We had not gone too far when the sound of a gunshot and my mum’s cry brought me to halt. A tear escaped my eyes and more began to flow when I realized I was never going go see her again. Gracy started crying struggling to run back to mum. If was much more difficult to run carrying a wailing child, but I had to do it.
I didn’t know where we were neither did I know where we were running to. It was dark and Gracy was already fast asleep , so I was relieved when I noticed someone had a bonfire nearby. I moved closer hoping to beg whoever it was to allow us spend the night there. I got there only to find the place empty, so I laid Gracy there waiting for the fire owner. I wondered where the owner had gone to, as I was a bit pressed but didn’t want to leave Gracy there. After waiting for some time, I decided to go relieve myself but I didn’t go far. I returned to find a man pointing a gun at Gracy and she was taking off her clothes. “Oh my God!” I grasped. She is only a little girl and I was not just going to stand there and watch someone molest the only relative I had left. I picked up a heavy wood and tip toed towards him as he had his back to me. I raised the wood and smashed his head with all the strength in me, making fall in the process. He fell too lying lifeless with blood gushing out of his head. Did I just kill someone? I just became a murderer! Gracy stood staring at me. I hugged her and we both cried.
We continued moving till dawn. My legs were weak and I couldn’t imagine how Gracy felt . It was like she read my thoughts as she complained of hunger. It was then I realized we hadn’t eaten anything for the past twenty four hours. Although I wasn’t going to eat, I had to get something for the little girl. But what can I get her in the middle of nowhere? It was then I noticed a mango tree ahead. The fruits that had fall off the tree had gone bad so my only option was climbing; something I haven’t done before. I reached for the tree, finding my way up. I reached for one of the fruits, only for the branch I stood on to give way as it was already weak. I fell to the other side of the tree where there was a steep slope. I passed out before I got to the bottom of the slope. It was already noon when I woke, it took a while before I recalled the happenings that brought me there. “Gracy!” I yelled. Where could she be? I couldn’t imagine her being all by herself. I searched for her till dusk crying out her name. “How will I explain this?” I thought. Poor girl, she didn’t deserve any of it. I searched through the night but she was nowhere to be found. I continued the next day only to find myself back to the same town we had been running from. I moved to the middle of the road to get a better view of the havoc that had been recked.
Back to present.
As I stood there staring, Asa’s song played in my head
“Where do you go when you are by yourself?
Who comes along when you cry for help?
I know I can’t change the past,
but as the river keeps flowing,
I will keep on moving on. “
“Moving to where exactly?” I asked myself.
It’s exactly twelve years now since we experienced that. Twelve years since the direction of my life made a U-turn. Luckily for me, I was picked up by some peace keepers and I am now happily married, a civil engineer running my PhD . Oh! Before I forget, I found Gracy two years ago! I saw her on AIT, she had won a scholarship to study medicine aboard! She has always been the brainy one. It was a happy reunion when I located her. She told me she was found wandering the bush by a kind hearted lady. She decided to raise her when she learnt she had lost her parents. She thought I was dead while I believed she was also dead. How ionic! She is currently in India. The images of me murdering that man has been haunting me over the years but it is now BLURRED.