It took me six months to write down her story, six months to write down a few lines. It’s easier to forget.
I met a woman in the city of Medina, in Saudi Arabia who tapped my shoulder as I was conversing with my mother. “Mummy?” she whispered as she pointed towards my mother, in a low huskiness that broke as soon as the word had left her mouth. Yes, I nodded. And just the confirmation itself was so heart wrenching to her that her body abruptly began to convulse. The movement of words trying to make its way from her gut to her tongue pained her that she shook with emotion. She began to cry. I didn’t know why. I sat there with her in a moment of brief silence and fanning of tissues, she began to speak. “I from Burma…” and that’s all I heard her say. The rest was heart breaking moments of tears and shudders and hand gestures that I can still see today. The imagery she had made me visualise has not left me. I’m sad to say that I’ve upset her, by laughing with my mother in front of her, by just being with my mother… this woman crying in front me, praying in front of me, had a daughter. Her young daughter, her child, her own flesh, from her own womb – beheaded. Slaughtered. I only assume that it happened before her eyes. She had not passed the age of seven.
Please God, tell me this is not real life.
It took me six months to write down the story of a Rohingya woman, six months to write down a few lines. It’s easier to forget. I ask that you be better than me. I ask that you remember. And that you do nothing more than pray for her and the Rohingya people who have suffered and are still suffering such terrors and heartbreak in Burma. I ask that you pray for them as you pray for the lives of Syria’s children. As you pray for the thousands of individuals in refuge, in search of grace by their fellow man, in search of a place where they can be treated as humankind. The ones whose lives are constantly and consistently at risk, who are fleeing from conflict and squalor. The desperate mothers, who strive forth, as the pitfalls of humanity crumble down around them. And the children… the ones who sincerely have hope in us, we who follow your stories on television and forget them as soon as we change the channel, we who think that we are human beings because we repost your picture on social media thinking we’ve done enough, we who criticize the gunman at the harbour for giving you a bottle of water and sending you back to sea but still do nothing more than him, proving that we are no better. Yet you believe in us, you have faith in us. You’ve put your trust in us, that we’ll help you, that we’ll save you. We fail you every time.
“And the mother prayed, Child – May you never walk when the road waits, famished.”
– Wole Soyinka