You see my little brown eyes staring at you through the computer screen. Blood splatters my clothes but your attention is drawn to my tear-stained face. I cry out to you, my little chest racking up and down, up and down through the sobs. You can’t hear me though. Have you ever really heard me?
I don’t remember the last time I cried like this. Maybe it was that time when I was four years old and the toy car I’d finally gotten after desiring it for so long got stolen. Or broken. I can’t remember now, but I cried and cried and cried. Mama nor papa could console me, I just wanted to be left alone.
How I wish Mama could console me now.
I reach out to her, my fingertips passing over her stone-cold face and still wet, glassy eyes. My hand finds her brown hair and I quickly pull her head-covering back over it – she never let her hair show. My hand reaches her hand and I grasp on to it so tightly, so so tightly. My knuckles become white through the red that is covering them and as I clench her hand even tightly so, another loud cry leaves my little body. Mama has left me now too.
You see my little brown eyes staring at you through the computer screen. You see the helplessness and the pain that my face carries, but do you really see?
Did you see the day we had to flee our home? Mama and Papa were so sad that day, although they didn’t let it show. But I saw the way Mama was looking at everything in our home, she was really, really looking as if she would never see them again. And then there was the way Papa lingered near the back wall, the very place where I had taken my first steps, the same place we sat and ate together every single night. I knew we wouldn’t be coming back. And even if we did, this same house would no longer be standing.
Papa always told me that love resides within – it is not attached to people or things. Even if people or things go, love will always remain. But as I turned back to take what I knew would be one last look of my home, I felt an overwhelming tug in my chest, like the air was being dragged from me. Papa took my hand, interlocking his strong fingers through my meek ones. He turned my face towards this new direction and together we went on our way; doing whatever we could to spare our lives. Doing whatever we needed to do – to survive.
You see my little brown eyes staring at you through the computer screen. I am just another pair of little brown eyes. Am I just another pair of little brown eyes to you?
My eyes have seen things I could never have dreamt of in my deepest nightmares. My eyes have seen far too much for a 9-year-old child. My eyes have seen Papa leaving us alone in a cold, stone room for safety – and my eyes have still not tired from waiting for him to return.
You see my little brown eyes staring at you through the computer screen. You think you know my story, but do you really know?
He watched ice-cold as my little brown eyes stared up at him through the dust and dirt that caked my sunken face. I looked up at this man – not angry, not sad. I looked searchingly for a glimmer of love or light upon his face.
He gave me every reason to hate him. He shot Mama in front of my very eyes. He kicked her lifeless body out of the way, making space between him and me. He spat on the ground missing her face by inches. I should hate him, I really should hate him.
But my Mama taught me better than that. “Do not hate them for how they treat us” she told my brother and I. “Do not hate them for they do not know. Show them love – maybe one day that love will come back around to you.”
I looked at Mama laying on the ground. Not my Mama, just another body laying on the land to which it belonged; another life sacrificed desperately for a place to call home. My Mama wasn’t here now, she was there.
Then I took a breath, through my tears, through the pain. I took a deep breath through my struggle.
“I do not hate you.” I said to him calmly, clearly, looking straight into his dark brown eyes, so dark they almost appeared black.
He stared back at me, cold, eyes unblinking.
For a moment I thought he would speak back. For a moment it appeared as if he had something to say. Just for a moment…
The loudest shot I had ever heard rang through my ears. I felt pain and suddenly I felt ease.
You see my little brown eyes staring at you through the computer screen. You see them? My little brown eyes have now closed for the final time but there a million pairs of other little eyes looking for you. I pray you find them soon.
Written by Sabah Ismail in helpless, heartbreaking times.