Saturday, 26 September 2015

The promised land

Inspiration: A picture send to me by my sister Rachel. And another picture that has been all over the news recently. This is Rachels picture.

‘Aysiah, we have to go, now!’ my mother urges me on. I am still clutching on to grandma’s teapot. ‘Oh, for Christ’s sake, just take it with you!’

It is strange to hear my mother swearing, but she is right, we need to be on our way. While holding on to the chipped teapot, which is missing an ear, I see my grandmother standing in front of the soldiers, holding on to the teapot like she was holding on to everything she believed in. I see the teapot slipping out of her hands, falling to the ground while she follows it down, her gown reddening after the gunshot. The day the teapot lost its ear, I lost my grandmother and my believe in a just world.

My grandmother was a fierce woman, never afraid to speak her mind, which she also did on the day the soldiers came to our home. My mother tried to hush her up, but grandma wouldn’t listen. One of the young soldiers got nervous and fired the shot. The soldiers left, but now they are gaining strength and the story of my grandmothers death is becoming an icon of resistance. Which means we are all in danger.

‘Aysiah!’ We take as much as we can carry, but not too much. We have to travel light, leaving our car behind. We cannot be noticed, we have to leave like thieves in the night, although we have done nothing wrong. My father grabs my hand, almost dragging me along as we leave our village. At first we walk, silently. Reaching the open field our nerves get the better of us and we start to run to the opposite of the field, where we can take cover in the bushes. Mother is carrying my little brother, he is five and a bit too heavy for her. My father lets go of my hand, taking over my little brother. I slip and fall and while I struggle back to my feet I hear a gunshot. It is not close, we are not seen yet, but we are startled and run as fast as we can till we drop down in the bushes.

Then I see it, the teapot, lying all alone in the field. I can’t leave it there, I just can’t. It would be like leaving grandma behind, denying everything she believed in. I run back, keeping low and almost diving on the teapot. I hear footsteps behind me, my father. He looks furious and hisses something at me, signaling me to stay down. Then I hear the second gunshot, very close this time. My father falls down on me, I feel something wet dripping on my neck, I can’t move. I can’t move for a very long time.

We are standing on the seashore now. I cannot remember how we got here. My mother is arguing with some man. It seems my parents bought us a passage to safety. The man is telling my mother the prices went up, just a matter of good business due to increased demand.
‘There are only three of us now, we paid for four, it should be enough,’ my mother argues. The man is still shaking his head, impatiently. I look down in embarrassment and see I am still holding on to the teapot. Its lid has fallen off, revealing its contents. I take out the roll of banknotes my grandma has hidden there and hand it over to the man. He counts the notes and nods, we may embark.

I am sitting close to the edge on the crowded boat, trying not to stare at the other people. My little brother crawls on my lap.
‘Is this the boat to the promised land?’ he whispers.
‘It is, yes it is, we’ll be safe.’
‘Aysiah, I am afraid, I can’t swim. What if we never reach the promised land?’

‘We will, my little brother, we will,’ I assure him and hand him the old empty chipped teapot, missing its ear.  

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