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The Silent Cries

Author's note: I wanted to right about human genocide and the violation of human rights as well as the heroic responses of survivors.
Author's note: I wanted to right about human genocide and the violation of human rights as well as the heroic responses of survivors.  « Hide author's note
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The Silent Cries

1/14/13
Darfur Genocide- short story

(2003)
Why can’t we be free? Why doesn’t the world care? You would think that a mass-slaughtering of a human race would be prevented by now; it’s the 21st century. But yet everyday over 100 Sudanese civilians are sexually assaulted before being tortured and brutally killed. How is this fair? Why won’t someone help us? Why do we remain silent?

As I go about my work, tending to the injured, these questions run through my sleep deprived mind. I haven’t had the time or strength to sleep. My patients’ nightmares haunt my mind and body. Their screams, cries for help, and unspeakable torture strike a pain in my gut. As I drag my legs along the dry, coarse sand I notice my mind traveling off; contemplating these horrible questions. As I move along the rows of the wounded, I notice a young boy who has been badly burned from being thrown into a burning hut. All that is visible are his eyes, full of pain, peering at me through the snow white bandages covering his tiny, lifeless body. I don’t say anything. I don’t know what to say. I manage to pull myself together and assist the poor boy in lying down. When trying to make him as comfortable as I can, we make eye contact. His tear filled eyes stare deep into mine, making my heart strings twinge. His silence and scars tell a story; a story that is deeper and more painful than any spoken words because his silence shows the fear; the fear that every victim possesses. I entangle my hand in his and whisper quietly, “Don’t be afraid. You’re not alone.”

When I was younger and growing up in Darfur, I always wanted to help people. That feeling of achievement when you save a life or help a newborn take its first breath is rewarding. In my culture, women serve no purpose except to tend to the home and bear the children. And being under military control means women have no born rights as to education and career opportunities. So when I made the decision to become a doctor, my family as well as the society did not support me. My father always said to reach for your goals and never give up. However, apparently this dream was completely out of line. I fought the beliefs of my culture to become the impossible. Eventually I began my practice in Darfur but it had to be kept quiet, in fear of being killed for being the only Sudanese woman doctor. Shortly after I opened my practice the Arab-dominated government began its campaign of oppression. Every day women and children came in with severe assault wounds. Before I became a doctor I swore I would never taste the words on my tongue, “I can’t help you.” Today, I’ve said it 40 times; I should know. I counted. 2 days ago the Janjaweed, an ethnic Arab government funded militia, targeted a young girls’ school. 110 students and teachers were brought to my clinic in need of medical attention for severe rape wounds. I jump at the sound of a blood curdling scream coming from a 7 year old girl. It was profound how brutal the extent of the abrasion was. Her injuries are so severe that there is nothing we can do to treat her. She will slowly die from blood loss. Even if we had enough sutures on hand to treat her injuries, she still would not survive. Fury begins to boil inside of me. She is so young and innocent. She has so much to live for. How can someone so evil and twisted do this to a child? I fling open the dusty curtain of the medics hut and stagger outside.

I have had enough. There is no possible way I can just witness such a gruesome and twisted thing without saying something. I have remained silent for far too long. I started to walk down the dirt road which progressively turned into a sprint, not turning back until I reached home. The dry air stabbing into my skins as I ran felt like millions of needles, but I still didn’t stop. I began to feel wetness against my cheeks and realized I was crying. My emotions and adrenaline were controlling my body as if I could not even think straight. When I finally reached home I stumbled inside and moved towards an old looking box and fumbled for a pencil and paper. I knew the exact address of who I was writing to but I could not control my hand to write even my own name. My hands and whole body shook as the adrenaline pumped through my veins. After what seems to be a lifetime, I get my words down on paper and seal the envelope entitled, “United Nations Investigation.”

It has been 3 days since I’ve sent the letter. Anxiety boils inside of me as I lie in bed for the millionth sleepless night. The thought of what could happen both positively and negatively swirls around my mind. If the U.N receives my letter and believes every word of it, the people of Darfur could be saved and I will be considered a hero. But on the other hand, what if they don’t believe me and think of it as a joke? Being controlled by a military government every aspect of our lives is monitored. I might have made a mistake. This government invades all privacy of the people; their homes, work and even mail. The thought of my letter being found by the Janjaweed makes me sick. I can’t bear to think these thoughts any longer. I get up and start getting ready for work. I grab a banana and start walking down the road. It is a simply gorgeous day even with the evil that controls our world. Baby blue skies with clouds that are so fluffy that they could be cotton balls. It wasn’t too hot and not too cold, a perfect medium with a nice warm breeze. Butterflies fly over my head chasing each other. At the sight of this, I smile for the first time in a very long time. Sometimes you just need to stop and take in the beauty of life and forget about all the horrible things going on around you. The sounds and smells are just so calming. As my mind drifts to the idea of peace and security for the Sudanese people I feel the presence of an unwanted soul. I feel a warm evil breath on the back of my neck causing my hair to stick up. “Now it’s your turn pretty lady,” said a deep, hoarse voice. I try to run but my legs won’t move; my voice won’t scream. I am frozen with fear. Next thing I know, I feel a powerful pain in the back of my head and I collapse to the ground. My vision is blurry and I can’t seem to breathe. I feel myself being thrown around like a rag doll. As I zone out of consciousness, the last memory I have is of a blurry but beautiful butterfly land right on my wrsit.
As my eyes slowly open and I come into consciousness, I find myself in a dark room that I don’t recognize. It is hard to tell where I am for the room has dim lighting. The floor is made of concrete and is cold as ice but a layer of dirt and sand covers the floor. A heavy acrid smell fills my nostrils; almost smelling like must and mold. I can’t make out any windows or doors, for the room is dark. I don’t know where I am, I don’t know how I got here, and I don’t know what day it is. But when I try to get up, my body flings back against the concrete wall like a rag doll; knocking the wind out of me. My arms are shackled to the wall at my wrists with heavy, rusted chains. It takes some time for air to once again reenter my lungs but once I have gained strength I try and unhook my wrists but it is no use. As I lay my head back against the cold, hard wall I hear a door open. Two evil possessed eyes stare right at me. I can make out the small spark from the end of a cigarette butt. Smoke billows off the end just adding to the intensity of the awful smell of the room. I try to speak, but as the body to which the eyes belong to steps into the dim light, I notice the AK-47 strapped across the body of a Janjaweed military general. At that point, my nightmare became a reality. The man doesn’t make eye contact with me but simply paces back and forth in front of my feet. I hold my breath not knowing what to expect. “You are such a pretty girl,” said the husky voice. “Why would someone like you go and say such a thing?” I feel his clammy, calloused hand caress my face but I don’t look up and I don’t respond. As I hang my head, trying to avoid all eye contact a sharp pain stabs my temple and my vision begins to go blurry; I’ve been struck with the butt of the gun. He repeats his question, this time screaming. I can smell the remains of alcohol on his breath. “Why did you tell b****?” This time, I try to respond but when I try to speak I taste blood spilling from my mouth. I hear a shatter of glass from a beer bottle being thrown across the room. But my vision has not focused yet. For all I know there are 6 of him. I try to focus as hard as I can on the one that I believe is him when I feel a burning sensation on my inner thigh; it starts out small and just begins to enflame my skin. I can feel the layers upon layers of skin being burnt from the cigarette butt being jabbed into my thigh. I try to scream, but nothing comes out. Once again, I am silent. In a rage of fury the general leaves the room with the slam of the door. I collapse onto the bitter cold floor and feel wetness on my cheeks. I presumed it was blood, but then I realized that it is not blood; tears; silent tears running down my dirty, bloody face. For the first time, I come to the realization that I am truly alone and might die here and nobody will know or even care; just like the thousands of other victims.

Days go by at least I think they have. This room is so dark that I can’t make out how many days I’ve been captive; I assume about 3. My is limp and sore. I can barely feel my arms. Who knew that in 3 days a single person could endure so much pain. I’ve been starved, beaten, burnt with cigarettes, screamed at by drunks who pointed guns toward my head. Taunted, insulted, gang raped repeated times and worst of all my kidnappers threatened my family’s lives’. You can beat me, break my bones but being told that your family will be killed if you don’t take back what you said, is probably the worst torture I ever endured. I was raised to put people before myself and if that means taking the hit to keep my family safe then so be it. Today, I have lost all hope for myself, my family and my people. Until the day I die, I will remain captive and no one will attempt to save me. I lay my forehead against my curled up knees and close my eyes for just a few moments. For the first time in weeks, my body relaxes and my mind begins to travel. However I fall out of my spell to the sound of the creaking door opening. Quickly, I adjust my body to try and avoid any sort of assault but when I look up it isn’t a Janjaweed officer. An old man who looks to have been beaten stands before me. Scars along his body are covered by the remains of dried blood. His clothes have been ripped and burnt but his eyes are kind. He reaches towards me and I flinch at the touch of his hand against mine. I close my eyes bracing for a blow but my arms are released from the shackles and fall to my sides. “Run as fast as you can. Get away and don’t turn back,” he whispered. I stare at him with confusion but before I can ask his name he is gone.

All I can remember is running; running forever and not turning back. My legs drag against the dirt but I keep pushing. Trucks with civilians and Janjaweed militia drive past and I dive into the ditch and bushes to hide from them. I have run at least 20 miles at this point but I cannot go home. That isn’t an option. They would find me. So I ran until sunset, to a tribe that was within 16 miles away from my home. They let me stay as long as I needed but I could tell by their voices and stares that keeping me was endangering the lives of their people. I tried to make contact with my family but to my horror, they were found by the Janjaweed and killed. When the militia realized I had escaped they knew the one thing that would be worse than torturing me. They targeted my family instead. For the first time, my vocal chords allow me to burst out into a scream. The most important thing in my life was taken away from me because I tried to help the people of Sudan. How is that fair? No one deserves this. I have reached the point where I have nothing left to live for. But as I hold my face in my hands and sob my pain and sorrows away I feel something against my arm; something light like a feather. I peer through the spaces between my fingers and see a butterfly. At that moment I knew my father would want me to push through and make things right; not just for me but for the people of Darfur. At that point in time, I became bulletproof. You can try and try to pull me down but I’ll never surrender; ever.

Last week, I received the answer to my prayers; somewhat of a blessing in disguise. Due to my kidnapping, my injuries were so severe that I was transported to Britain. While hospitalized I got a letter from the United States President, George Bush, inviting me to a meeting concerning the safety and welfare of the people of Sudan. As I finished reading the letter all I could say was, “Thank you. Finally, someone cares.” I was flown to the White House yesterday morning for the meeting regarding, what he called, the Darfur Genocide. The words of that killed a part of me. I couldn’t even fathom the possibility of a genocide occurring in the 21st century but yet again I survived it. Standing there, next to the President of a free country, was an unattainable dream that I thought would never become possible for me. But with speaking out, and taking a journey that was driven by my beliefs I am here. As I glance out the window I start to lose focus on the conversations around me. The day is just like the day I was taken captive; blue skies, white fluffy clouds. But what was even more special, was my symbol of hope was flying right outside the window; a butterfly. I focus back in when the President begins his speech. My thoughts hang off every word the he speaks. But a part of that speech meant something to me. “I am frustrated with the pace of activities. The U.N’s efforts to enlarge the peacekeeping force in Darfur have failed. This genocide has been occurring for over 5 years now and if we don’t take a stand, it shall continue for as long as we let it. The world has been slow to answer the cries of the Darfur people. This is, in part, because of the Sudanese government's intransigence and arrogance. This failure is partly because the Chinese government, Sudan's largest trading partner, will not use whatever leverage it has. And the failure is partly because the other country which could do much, the United States, has been distracted by, first, the war in Iraq, and now the economic crisis. But we can no longer let circumstances like these take place. We must take a stand.” Those were the words, which I have been dreaming about for the past 5 years. Words that I thought would never be spoken by someone who could help. But right now I am witnessing a power big enough to change this situation.

The President eventually turns to me asks for my input. I finally feel safe enough to voice my opinion. “This meeting means a great deal. The people of Darfur have waited a long time and there is no assurance that their wait is over. The rape, murder and pillaging of the communities of Darfur continues while the world tries to figure out what it can do. We can’t wait any longer. We must take action.”

It is now 2013, and this genocide still continues as the world tries to decide what to do.
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This book has 4 comments. Post your own now!

rfcorcoran23 said...
Nov. 6, 2013 at 9:25 am
Thank you for the positive feedback. This story means the world to me and i strongly believe that Genocide needs to stop.
 
arquette said...
Nov. 2, 2013 at 11:37 pm
This story is very well written and full of raw emotion.  It's a very powerful story that everyone should read.  It's refreshing to read a young author with both strong literary talent and a social conscience.  I look forward to more work by Ms. Corcoran.
 
LuckyOnes said...
Oct. 27, 2013 at 5:55 pm
What a sad but amazingly well written piece. May God be with the oppressed in Sudan.
 
jrrw said...
Oct. 27, 2013 at 5:54 pm
Well written article about a topic that most Americans are either ignorant about or prefer to ignore.
 

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