The tragedy's of the past continue to haunt the memories of the present
|The Sun’s light filters through the darkening clouds on its journey to the horizon. The freshness of promised rain is in the air and the comforting noise of the night is just beginning. Insects drown out the sounds of my mother preparing the evening meal. The aromatic scents of cooking meat and exotic spices extract a rumble from my stomach. My brother’s infectious laugh comes from our neighbor’s hut. The sounds of my father’s axe echoes throughout the village, slow and strong. I lie beneath the tree and relax.
A light misty rain falls; soft, gentle and warm as the darkness grows. Someone yells and the comforting sounds around me cease. I peer through the twilight. I can see my father running towards our hut. His desperation and urgency to reach us is shown in every stride. He is yelling a warning, but is still too far away to make it out. From behind him, a line of men appear out of the darkness. The tallest shadow points at my father and there is a thunder clap and a spear of lightning. My father is struck by something and falls skidding on the ground. He does not move. Others from my village appear from their huts. Confusion reigns. My mother has seen my father. Rushing forward, she falls to her knees beside his still form. She struggles to roll him onto his back. Her scream shatters the falling night as she hugs him to her chest.
The villagers are enraged. Men rush to retrieve their weapons. My brother and his young friends join with the men in defense of the village. The women gather the children to them. The jungle is their only escape. I, to my everlasting shame, sit frozen in shock; hidden safe in the trees.
The invaders move forward. I see they are also dark skinned. They approach my fallen father and grieving mother. A tall brutish black man bellows at my mother and the village defenders.
“This man did not listen. He was told to stop. Any who disobey will suffer the same fate. Get up woman! This man is dead. You are mine now!”
My mother does not move.
Incensed, the leader raises his club and swings a savage blow to her head. Roughly, he grabs and pulls the now senseless woman to her feet. Without turning, he throws her to another man. Shackles are placed around her wrists and she is dragged away.
The black man’s voice thunders once more.
“Surrender to us, or die.”
The men of my village are brave. They rush forward and a number are struck down by the thunder, but the rest do not falter. The invaders move forward swinging heavy clubs which whistle through the air. The sounds of breaking bones fill my ears. I see my brother moving towards their leader. He staggers, but still struggles forward with my mother’s kitchen knife tightly clutched in his hand. The way parts and they are face to face. The man looks at him with contempt. With no more thought than stepping on an ant, he swings a backhanded blow at my brother’s head. I try to look away, but the sight imprints itself on my mind as if in slow motion. The club connecting with his jaw; teeth shattering, his eye exploding, skull cracking, his body lifeless, as it flies though the air.
All is quiet except for the whimpers and moans from the fallen. The victors search through the defeated. They pull the seriously injured to one side. They shackle and drag the others away. Their leader shouts and gains his men’s attention. He gestures with a hand across his throat. They move forward and dispatch the injured with practiced efficiency; a knife thrust to the chest. From the edge of the jungle, mothers and children are being herded back into the village as if they are cattle. They are the true prize for these men. They are led away. I know I will never see any of them again. The bodies of my father, brother and neighbors are placed in one of the huts and set alight. The enemy slips away into the full darkness of night. I hear the crackling of flame and the all-pervading smell of meat burning.
I awake screaming.
The nightmare remains with me; vivid and terrifying in its clarity.