Title: Do I belong here? Part three by Osama Suleiman
Author: Osama Suleiman
Date: 09-04-2013, 03:19 PM
Do I belong here? Part three
by Osama Suleiman
Let me walk you through my house, what they call on TV? crib? I live in the tiniest of tiniest of a place called Rakuba. It does not even qualify for that. The closest thing that I can relate it to is a big sleeping bag, only it is not as comfortable and nor it is out of a choice. This Rakuba is a metre high, and the other dimensions are 2m×2m. I reside in the eastern part of Kalma IDP camp, South Darfur. These small living places are mainly used for storage by the majority of people here. During the summer, or when it is hot, people tend to spend the time inside their Rakubas to avoid the sun beam, and during the night they sleep outside under the moon light. There is nothing poetic about that I am afraid. It is a dense, dirty, and a grim place with no prospects what so ever. Everyday the questions keep popping in my head. Dear Allah, is this what it’s suppose to be? Is this life? And why us? There are all legitimate questions with answers. One important fact is that no one decided to come here out of choice. Everyone was driven out of there day to day life (some comfortable and some could be considered as frugal lifestyle) to this depressing place. I am refusing to be a statistical figure, that’s why I decided to write. People do not treat us as human beings. They see through us. We are the sons and daughters of someone. To prove that fact, let me take you back to where I was before.
We were known as the lucky eight. My parents had five children, two girls and three boys.
My father is Ismail Adam – a farmer as I mentioned before. My Mother is Mariam Yagoub – a house wife, she does work on the market during the harvest season, to sell some of our crops.
The children from the eldest to the youngest – Myself Ali (17 years), Ahmed and Aisha (twins, 15 years), Osman (14 years), and Abubaker (12 years) and last but never the least Nusiba (10 years). We were very close as a family, but at the same time every one is an individual and independent person.
My schooling years were fun, fruitful and full of life. Started at Ain Girfa basic school, then my secondary education was in Taweela high school. Taweela is a town in Northern Darfur and it is not that far from my village. I was an average student, however a street smart. I was never a loner, always a part of a big group of friends. At the latter years of basic school and the start of the high school I was somehow appointed as the leader of my friends ‘Shulla’. The group was diverse. My best friend Ibrahim was the son of a rich man, Wad Alkhatim, a prominent merchant in the town of Taweela. Although they had houses all over Darfur regions, Wad Alkhatim was a fond of Ain Girfa, and he used to say “no place in the world is better than Ain Girfa, except the city of the prophet”. Wad Alkhatim was a father figure to me, he was close to my dad, a very humble man who never forgot his roots. His father was a bus conductor from the Habbania tribe. He lived all his life in the capital of Sudan, Khartoum. One day there was a shortage in buses going to Darfur, so the bus he worked on was diverted to the west to gain few extra pounds. At the begin Wad Alkhatim father was reluctant, but he finally accepted the offer and he started the journey across Kordufan region and then into Darfur. It was a journey of a life time. He came a cross Ain Girfa. He was mesmerised by the scenery, decided to stay, got married to my friend’s Ibrahim grand mother and he lived there happy ever after.
My other friend was Tete. His father was the basic school headmaster. Omer on the other hand was a close that lived in Taweela; his father was a gifted carpenter and was originally from Aim Girfa. Tete’s father helped my father to come with the plan to build the dam (Do I belong here? Part two). We were a big group and we had it going on. Our busy schedule and innovative programming made us very influential as well a target for jealous counterpart. I will get to some of the Shulla’s mischievous stories later on.
Yesterday day was a slow day by all standards, uneventful and relatively peaceful. However after the sunset, things did take a turn for the worst. I was lying over a thin layer of cloth inside my Rakuba reading an Arabic edition of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. I came across the title during a history lesson on my first year of secondary school. We did not learn any part of the story back then; however European history of that era was fascinating and does resonate on my mind to date. I know it is silly but I used to love the rhyme of the name Victor Hugo. Almost 200 years later, here I am in a position were I could relate to the book characters from the 19th century. One may asked how I managed to obtain such a book under the restrictions imposed upon us by the camp guards and the government. There are groups of intellectuals that exchange smuggled books between them. Some are universities graduates; some are ex civil servants, students and teachers. The books circulate between these groups. It is an underworld and the only analogy that one could use to describe the activities is drug trafficking business. This is what we’re reduced to!
Anyhow I was reading the book, and all of the sudden I heard multiple bangs few metres from my inhabitant. And I immediately distinguished the source of sound as a 9 mm hand gun. Not because I love guns, arsenals and weaponry. I gained the knowledge through experience; I am a peaceful and a pacifist person from a tender age. I got out of my Rakuba and I saw a body on the ground. I got closer, and I wished I would have stayed away. A young man was shot dead from point blank on his forehead. The bullets took his brain out of his skull leaving a huge hole at the back of his head or whatever left of it. He was shot by one of the camp guard, part of a unit called boarders guards. The irony is that Kalma IDP Camp is no where near any boarders. It is in the middle of South Darfur state. Minutes later, his mother heard someone got shot, so she rushed to that empty space only to find that it was her son. She was on her knees crying her heart out until she fainted. The criminal walked away like nothing ever happened. We called those guards the Janjaweed. They are a pro government militia; they enjoy privileges that exceed the army and police combined. The examples of such crimes are too many to be listed.
To be continued in Part four