The Unexpected Visit
I call it the unexpected visit. I can still feel that excruciating pain crawling through my veins as my mind reels from dead bodies all around. At first, I didn’t believe my ears; as if I was dreaming, as I lay on my bed hearing the horrible sounds and screams of terror, as chills went through my spine. Bomb that house! The voice came like a shocking wave through my window as I tried to make sense of what was going on. It was the voice of the villains, the executioners, the dwellers of the jungle ripping through the heart of the city.
Would this be the end of my life, I asked myself? There was running and screaming everywhere. The thought of death, chopping off hands and limbs, was vivid on my mind as I put on my clothes and sneakers to make haste out of the house–but to where? People had been massacred in other parts of the country. I looked at the time. It was after 5:00 in the morning. I jumped out of the window and over the fence to escape the sinister perpetrators of these killing machines. All I could hear were people in my compound running for shelter to neighbors, only to experience the same chaos.
Like me, everyone was clueless, especially for those waking up from the thunderous sounds of RPGs (Rocket Propel Grenades), AK47s, and other weapons. Houses were on fire, and looting was in every corner. It was now after 10:00 in the morning. Shooters stormed the next-door neighbor—one of them a member of the military who was locked up. My heart raced. I was so afraid, thinking what would happen if I was caught. Thank God their attention went somewhere else, and they left the area.
It was like innocent animals waiting to be slaughtered. These rebels were everywhere in the central area and other parts of the city. To make matters worse, the president, who had fled to a neighboring country, announced that a peacekeeping force was on its way to the city and that everyone should stay indoors, or they might be mistaken as a rebel and shot.
At first, it sounded good to my ears, but it turned out to be terrible. The villains—rebels, ordered everyone to come out in support of them. Those who refused would be shot or burned alive in their houses. However, at that moment, no one would tell you whether or not to stay in or go outside. Many people were killed. A friend of mine was also raped. Fortunately, she was left to return to her family. There was no national army to rescue anyone. We could only hope and pray for the peacekeepers to make it before our bodies were left for the vultures.
My mind went wild. Though I tried to stay calm, I thought of my dad, who was miles away. As people were running away with fear from their own dwellings, my compound became a haven for the moment. We all gathered together, Christians and Muslims, and prayed for protection. Everyone was scared. My small rice supply, palm oil (red oil), pepper, onions, and seasonings, were freely shared with others. It was time for togetherness, for sharing hopes and prayers. But the sounds of mortar and shelling of artilleries from the hills killed the hunger in my stomach. There was no time for food or taking a shower, nothing—except for the one thing that refused to be erased from my mind—DEATH.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
All that changed when people started chanting ECOMOG—the peacekeepers have finally arrived. But the war wasn’t over. Things calmed down in my area, and a few days later, a call came for my family and me to leave for another country. Something I hadn’t dreamed about or planned. But my way was paved to go to the United States. On my way, I felt awful for those left behind. I saw people with hands chopped off. A girl next to me had one eye covered in blood. I’m guessing they probably plucked her eye out. I felt terrible. Sadly, the hardships were just getting started—but there was hope. I could see the light at the far end of the tunnel.
If I were nothing, I wonder what I would have become—but I am something, and I am somebody.
If I were rich, I would have helped so many—which I’m trying to do.
If I were poor, I would have worked very hard to get out of poverty—which I’m doing.
If I were myself, I would just be myself—which I am.
A Positive, Still Voice
Voice is one of the most powerful motivators in a person’s life. Not just an ordinary voice, but a positive, still voice. And over the years, I have learned that this voice is like no other when it speaks to you through your mind and connects with other voices you hear and listen to—to bring out the good in you.
My experiences in life have taught me that life is what you make it. Today, my search for answers in life’s experiences and what life has to offer has kept me going and listening to the voice that leads me. Tomorrow is never promised, but tomorrow is another day and a reason to live and fulfill what you seek after. And for every day my eyes are opened, I know there is something extraordinary inside of me that speaks and gives me hope to keep pressing on.
Emile Whenzle writes from New York.© 2002 - 2021, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.