Until it was over


This situation was very unfamiliar, I had never experienced it before. I always took it for granted. Peace. The simplicity of riding my bicycle down the road. Peace. The indifference of who you are, where you come from, your appearance, your surname. Peace. The policemen patrolling the neighbourhood, the taxi you call with ease, the grocer you know will be open till late. Peace. The insignificance of your skin colour. Peace. All that I took for granted.

And now, I was out there and feared for my loved ones. Fear to walk out of the house. Fear to call friends in case it is bad news. Fear to eat too much in case the food run out and you couldn’t leave to get more supplies. Fear to finish talk time because I could not purchase more.

Somehow, I expected it. I had stocked food and water to last me a week. But I was not prepared for what was about to happen. I called my friends the night before, they assured me that everything was fine, and they would be watching TV at home. I felt reassured and opened my last packet of cookies (they went down quite fast). The night was calm and I tried to relax, telling myself that the election period would be over soon. I had been home for a week. But with all the tension, it felt nothing like a holiday (more like a nightmare).

Then it exploded!  

Gunshots. Fire. Stones.

I was relieved when she finally answered. Panic stricken, she told me that she was at home with her children. They could not sleep because of the teargas and the loud shooting. I heard one of the children crying. She told her to be quiet, so as not to be found. She wanted to send the children to a safe place but could not leave the house. I waited anxiously for an update, hiding in my house, praying that my Wi-Fi does not fail me and wishing that I would wake up and be back in my usual life. But this was my life now. 

The wonderful idealistic image of a white dove with a light green leaf was gone. Where, pray tell, is the Peace, Love and Unity? The deep seated bitterness of the unresolved past was now in the open. No more camouflaged by the routine of daily cheerful greetings. This is war! It was out and spread all over. It was personal. Neighbour rose up against neighbour; friend against friend; wife against husband.

She told me that the situation was bad. The rest of the family was still there, where the fire and the shooting was intense. The fire came closer. The shooting too. I know the house. It is a small, mud one, and the wooden door is swinging, only closing halfway. 

I asked her what I could do.


Until it was over.


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