Saturday, October 12, 2013

Children of War

Jenna: She was six years old and had just started her first year of primary school. She had her mom to tie her hair up in in pigtails with red ribbons. Jenna was so overjoyed with the outcome that she kept jumping up and down in front of the mirror to admire her hair as it bounced . Now her pigtails were bouncing as she ran home. Another bomb just went off, she lost her balance and tripped. She jumped up again without dusting herself off and continued running. They were in English class that afternoon practicing their letters. "luh, luh, lo ve." Ms. Nideen began. "luh, luh, love." the pupils repeated. Ms. Nideen had a sad look in her eyes that even a passerby would notice. Two weeks ago, her 3 year old son Belal was playing with his cat on the doorsteps of their home. His mother was inside heating up some milk for her son. She could hear his loud giggles as the cat tickled his legs with her long, furry tail. Two minutes later came the sounds of cries and shrieks. An opposition fighter running away from the army saw the little boy playing with a cat and decided that street would be a great place to hide. The army spotted him. The fighter held Belal in front of him. The army shot anyways killing Belal with a bullet to his throat and then finished off their target. Ms. Nideen rushed outside to find the cat licking her son's face which was drenched in blood. The neighbours began coming out to help. The men tried taking her dead son's corpse away from her, but she would not let him go. It wasn't until dawn the next day, when the Sheikh came and told her that she must let her son's body be buried. She finally let go, only because she was convinced her son would be a beautiful bird in heaven.

"muh, muh, mother." Ms. Nideen said trying hard to keep her tears back. "muh, muh, moth..." the students began. "The armies are back! Let the children out!" shrieked Ms. Lena, the administrative assistant. After six months of war, the children now knew the drill; they were to leave their bags and coats and run home- as fast as their short legs would allow them. During this hassle, Jenna ran to her bag to take out the small doll she had made for her mother during crafts class. She could not find it, so she began taking her books out of her bag. The class was now quiet. "Jenna! Leave your bag!" Ms. Nideen shouted. Jenna went on with what she was doing. Ms. Nideen went to her and yanked her away from the bag. Jenna smiled with the doll in her hand. Ms. Nideen ran with Jenna till the crossroad where their streets separated.  She placed her down and commanded  in her teacher tone: "Run home, Jenna!"

As she was running she pictured her mother's warm smile as she handed her the doll. Her mother would take her up in her arms and tell her that she was a lovely girl. Jenna would then tell her mother about all the sights she saw while running home: a mother crying over her child's corpse, a young girl crying as she held the body of her baby brother. Her mom would tell her that none of this was real; that is was just a game of pretend. "But I don't like this game. It's not fun. Tell them to stop, mommy." she would plead. "I am not part of this game." Her mother would reply.

Jenna finally arrived at the door. "Mommy , open up. I have a surprise for you!" The door opened, but she was not greeted with the warm eyes of her mother. It was her aunt Salma, her mother's older sister. "Hello auntie! Where is mommy?" Her aunt pointed to her mother's room and broke down in tears. Jenna ran to mother's room to find her wrapped in white sheets. She recognized these white sheets from Belal's funeral. She finally let her fingers loose and the doll fell to the ground. She cuddled next to her mother's body and sobbed loudly: "But why mommy? You said you weren't playing with them"

(this story is not based on real characters)