Every night the image of her conflicts with my mind, depriving its ability to rest as my delicate, weakened body imprints itself on the cluster of cotton and feathers I call my bed. Continually repeating the memory of her leaving me, leaving all that she once loved, and simultaneously leaving me the only one in possession of the secret. The saying “memories last forever” was never significant nor applicable to me before dawn broke over Burundi on June 3rd 1985, triggering whatever portion of my brain accounted for storing memories, and scarring me with my last ever memory I will share with my mother. It’s surreal how at times like these when all of Burundi sleeps and the sun is delivering happiness elsewhere, this memory becomes so vivid. Again I feel the rising of my shirt produce a tickle on my neck and the wind embrace my dusky coloured stomach as the run-down road is furthermore altered by its contact with my feet. Again my ribs press heavily against my skin, revealing themselves even more as I inhale. And again, the miniscule portion of my mother’s delicate face which filled the shoe box sized gap in the back of this deafeningly loud van, grew smaller and smaller as my pace decreased, accompanying my loss of energy. In that moment, both son and daughter released water, myself through the essence of perspiration and my mother for a different reason. A reason I did not understand at the time as I could vaguely see drips of water escaping her eyes and shaping her face as they travelled. Why was she sad? We were just playing a new version of tiggy weren’t we?
I will never be able to explain how much my last image of him tore me apart. Seeing his innocent, joyful-self chasing behind as I was taken. Every glimpse of his developing teeth and raised cheeks as his happiness escaped through a smile, broke my heart that much more. How badly I just wanted to scream and tell him I love him, tell him I’m sorry and that I never meant for this to happen. But I couldn’t risk it, for if they knew he was my son I wouldn’t be the only one being taken. It wasn’t the friction of the tyres or the strengthening exhaust which filled my ears, but more so the clunking of my ankles as the ropes’ restrain continuously forced them back together, and the gripping of my un attended too nails against the cold car door which held me imprisoned. For that was all that mattered to me, escape. For as long as I can remember, I had prayed every night that my past would never catch up to me but I guess god hadn’t got round to me quick enough.
Emmanuel is a very unpredictable man, therefore what occurs next for me is unknown and places immense…