A long walk


People think packing a small suitcase is something that you learn through practice, like singing or praying. Eight years old Yara has no practice at all. She has arranged her favorite coloring book with two colored pencils, a book of fairy tales which her father brought as a special gift on her last birthday, a framed picture of her on the lap of her grandmother, and two slightly torn dresses and a tooth brush.One of her dress is baby blue with white frills but missing one pocket on the front and the other one is a pretty lilac dress with velvet trim and has a small patch on the back. She has no idea what she is packing for,except a long journey. On one side of the suitcase her dog sits wagging his small brown tail. His curios eyes glances at Yara.  Yara runs to her mother. Her penetrating brown eyes look out through tangled hair. “ What about Kazo? I want to take him too.”

Her mother sighs. “ Kazo can not travel so far. He will miss playing in the village, so let her stay here. Do not worry, she will be fine. I will make sure and ask our neighbors to take care of her.”

Yara is confused now. She arches her an eyebrow. “ But mom, we do not have the neighbors any more. The bad people has burnt their houses.”

Her mother turns back abruptly.She pulls Yara closer. “ Don’t worry, I will find some one but now there is not much time. So go get your bag.”

One of her friend cries holding her tightly before she leaves the house. “ I will miss you but I know you’ll come back.We will go to school together and play with Kazo.”

Yara hugs her friend and carries the sentence with her. A sentence like that keeps her alive in her journey.

It is impossible to count how many people are walking and it is a long walk in a cloudy day. Yara walks  slowly dragging her tired feet holding her mother’s hand in the middle of all the legs, luggage s and lots of children. Some people talk a lot quietly with eyes wide open and some cry a lot quietly with eyes shut and air around them smells of fear and anxiety. They walk countless hours without stopping.

After the long walk they travel in a small and cramped boat, squeezing their bodies and holding each other. On the fourth day most of them run out of food. The giant hunger grows insatiably. Her mouth begins to expand, its roof rises to the top of her skull, then the whole head is racked with pain. Yara draws her tongue and chews on nothing.Her mother notices. She opens her small bag and searches for something and then a small smile flashes on her face. “ Eat this Yara.”

Yara takes the small piece of stale sandwich from her mother’s hand and swallows.No words are adequate for the suffering caused by hunger. She leans against her mother and looks up. The moon on the sky seems like a cup of cold milk. Yara pretends to drink the milk and tries to sleep.

The journey on land starts again. In freezing cold or searing heat, they spend the entire journey holding each other’s hands. After this long journey their bones become heavy as iron when most of the flesh on the bodies disappear, their bones become a burden.

Now they are in a tent with all other refugees. Although it is very crowded. She lays wide-eyed on a narrow cot. Her thoughts come in disconnected glimpses of this moment and that. She remembers the beautiful evening with her grand mother. They sit on a giant wooden stump in the small front lawn. As Yara looks at the pretty sky full of silvery stars her grandmother says pointing at the sky, “ Do you know that heaven is very beautiful and peaceful.”

Yara turns her simple face towards her grandmother. “ What do you mean? Have you visited the heaven?”

Her grandmother laughs. “ I have not visited yet but I am sure I will.” Then her tone changes. “ The honest, truthful, loving people go to heaven so always be a good person if you want to go to heaven, there is no place for evil.”

It is a bright day, sun is still white and the heat closely packed. Instead of playing with other kids in the camp site or reading a book, she sits with her feet on the bench and both knees tucked under her chin. She misses her dad and her village. Bombs and missiles have been aimed at her little village and destroy everything. In the middle of one night the bad people like giants in masks took her father and he never returned. For a long time her mother has cried sitting on her dad’s favorite chair. Her neighbor’s village has already burned to the ground or the enemy soldiers have threaten to kill who do not leave the village. A few drops of soft tears escape beneath her eyelids and run down on her cheek. Her father used to say that each and every event has its own place and own time. This is Law of nature. It follows that everything has its reason for being in the world. Maybe it means I should wait patiently for the day to be better and a perfect time to go back to my home.After school, I will play hide and seek with Kazo.



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