Wednesday, 16 June 2021

#WEPff #June challenge - #Year of the Art - my story - Wave After Wave in Search of Freedom

Here we are. Posting for the June WEP challenge for the Year of the Art. This month we honor  Hokusai. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), a  Japanese artist from the Edo period. His painting, Great Wave, is arguably his most famous work. My skin doctor has a huge print in his waiting room for me to meditate on each time I go.

There are so many possible reactions to the Great Wave, but I could never get waves of refugees out of my head. I hope you like my story which is a retelling of one previously posted for an earlier challenge.




Wave After Wave in Search of Freedom

 

Abioye looked down. African red dirt dyed his swollen, ripped feet as he put distance between himself and his desecrated village. Burned and looted, everyone he loved, dead.

 His eyes roved the roadside. He found a rolled-up old mattress, a cringing dog, a goatskin of water. For weeks, he'd been getting his swag together in the village - tins the warlords missed when they swooped into his village, dozens of them crammed in the back of dusty Jeeps painted to blend with the desert. Raiding and raping, they then drove off into the hills, automatic rifles over their shoulders. They stole the UN dried milk tins from the mothers’ tents, taking from the babies' mouths. They stole the rice, showing not a whit of conscience for the starving villagers.

 Then they took more than supplies.

 One day they returned, took the lives of everyone - all the old men, all the women, all the children. The only survivors were young men like him, around the age of sixteen, who roamed the sparse land where the grasses waved in the breeze, giving up edible herbs to those who knew the secrets of the landscape. After a day spent scavenging, he'd returned to unimaginable horror. Heart in mouth, he’d grabbed his swag from where he’d buried it under the one remaining tree … and ran. If the warlords found him, he'd be forced into the life of a boy soldier like so many others who'd disappeared.

 Abioye felt the sob in his throat. How he missed his friends, recently taken to be trained to intimidate, to maim, to murder. 

 He was what they called a refugee. Wave after wave of humans escaping privation, destitution, murderous gangs, a future without hope. Their destination? The boats. The sea. Freedom.

 Boats left from Tangier in Morocco. He'd work in Tangier until he saved the fare. He'd been given the name of a man who hired young men to escort tourists through the medinas*. He knew boats got caught in great waves of murderous seas. Many refugees died. But he’d gladly take the risk. He’d cross the water. To a free land. A land with food. A land with jobs. If all else failed, he would swim across the great waves. It’d been done. He would do whatever it took to reach the new land. Utopia.

 Excitement pulsed through him. It kept his mind off his painful feet and the sun beating down mercilessly on his rag-covered head. He sipped from his meagre water supply. He must make it last. He might walk for months and find no village, no water, no food. 

 The dog cried. He poured a little water into his cupped palm. The dog lapped, not wasting a drop. It licked Abioye's leg. He reached down and patted the mutt’s head.

 He adjusted his makeshift belt made of vines. He'd lost so much weight in the past few days, the trousers slipped over his hips. Now they flapped around his ankles. He laughed at the ridiculous situation, then stopped, afraid he was hysterical from horror or sunstroke. But it didn't matter if he laughed, cried or screamed. There was no one to hear him. He was crossing the Sahara Desert. Alone.

 Rocks tore his feet. He stumbled. Landed on his knees. Sobbed. He couldn’t help it even though he was wasting moisture. The sun. The rough road. The hunger. The thirst. The vision of his parents' burned bodies. His young sisters. His beloved -- How could he go on?

 The dog licked his face. Abioye dragged himself to his feet. He must go on. In memory of his father, his mother, his two sweet sisters, his Candis who’d been promised to him when they were children.

 His head whirled like when his father used to swing him around when he was a little boy. Falling, falling, falling, but never hitting the ground. 

 How long till he reached freedom? Surely, he must soon pass by the green plants that leaked water. Then he and the dog could drink their fill. As he dreamed, moisture formed on the tip of his tongue.

 I'm so tired. I need to sleep. Just for a little while. 

 No. He mustn't stop. To stop was death. Then there'd be no one to remember his family. No one to remember his Candis. He saw her in his mind – her wide smile, her red lips, her teeth pearly white, dazzling him, her short black hair cropped close to her scalp, her graceful long limbs, her colorful, modest dresses that brushed the red sand when she walked.

 I will never forget you, my little love.

 He took another step. For Candis.

 While ever God gave him life, he would press on. To a new life. Away from his cursed land. The land God forgot. Maybe God had turned his back on Africa but still lived in that new land where the boat would take him. Maybe God would welcome him to its shores and surround him with love and plenty. He smiled, imagining the vision.

 He'd seen mirages in the desert many times. A mirage was coming toward him. A big green tank shimmering through the waves.

 Thank you God!

 The mirage came closer. No! A Jeep. Soldiers in the back. Soldiers in the front. Guns pointed. At him.

 He spun around. Away. Away from the killers. Away from bondage. Away from death.

 He heard the dog yelp. Abioye’s throat closed over. Turning, he saw its head a bloody mess and its eyes stared sightless into the searing sky. 

 'Stop or you're next!' One of the soldiers waved his gun, then shot a machine gun round into the air. Takka! Takka! Takka! 

 ‘Don't take another step, boy. Or it’ll be your last.'

 * Medina - the old walled part of a North African town.

WORD COUNT: 958

FCA

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IF YOU LIKE THE IDEA OF WRITING FOR WEP, OUR NEXT CHALLENGE IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH


Thanks for coming by and reading.




56 comments:

  1. Heartrending. And true for far too many.

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    1. Yes Sue, sadly it is. The numbers of refugees is staggering.

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  2. Seemed like watching "Blood Diamond" and "American Odyssey".
    Liked the end if Abioye would have been freed from his earthly miseries or be bonded to a war of someone else left to another story.
    The trek through Sahara was thrilling.

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    1. I love the film "Black Diamond". A good influence I think. Glad you liked the trek through the Sahara.

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  3. I felt as if I couldn't escape that walk across the Sahara - it was so all-pervasive. Superb piece of writing there Denise. I'm so sad you sacrificed the dog. And in the end I thought maybe Abioye thought it's easier to move and be killed in one fell swoop rather than struggle on. Who knows. Chilling.

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    1. It could have gone several ways, Kalpanaa. I might pursue it with another ending.

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  4. great post!Like your blog, thank you for sharing.
    (づ ̄3 ̄)づ╭❤~
    best remy hair
    These contents have greatly helped me.

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  5. Hi Denise - it's so appalling ... this was brilliantly written - I too feel for Abioye - so many kids like that must die on the way ... we live in a cruel world. If only we could get leaders to see sense ... I'll be back to read again - so true, so desperate ... so unnecessary - the greed and corruption and for what ... the soldiers sadly just need to survive somehow too, bullied as they too are.
    Great story telling of a great wave of humanity ... desperate to be free. I wrote about Ai Wei Wei's film 'Human Flow: refugees on the move' ... we really do live in desperate times.
    Congratulations - cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks Hilary. There are currently many Abioyes in the world and I wanted to highlight his plight which plays out as we speak. Someone said my story is 'bleak and hopeless.' Well, it is. No happily ever after here!

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  6. Such cruelty in the world - what makes people act like that? You've certainly packed your story full of emotion.

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    1. For many, the world is a cruel place. Beyond imagining sometimes.

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  7. Such a powerful story. And sadly true for many in the world. Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. Thanks Natalie. Not altogether a work of fiction.

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  8. Beautiful and heart-breaking and far too real

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  9. I can taste the fear and sweat in every step Abioye takes. This is a story that hasn't been told enough.

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    1. Thanks Pennie. I agree which is why I did.

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    2. I tried to find you. Do you have a link as your webpage takes me nowhere.

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  10. Wow, Denise... that was some first paragraph followed by an intense and horrific adventure. I believe I had read this piece once before, but the impact was still the same...well done!

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    1. Yes, I can only manage to recycle stories atm with all my writing/publishing happening. I changed it to suit this challenge, but the impact is still the same.

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  12. What a tragic story. Bleak and hopeless.

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    1. Not your average happily ever after I admit, but it wasn't.

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  13. Hi Miss Denise
    Wow, what a powerful piece of writing. I couldn't stop reading. Made me feel like I was right there with Abioye and the dog. I've watched a movie and documentary about this and it grabs me just like your story did.

    I joined the challenge for the first time and posted a haiku on my blog.

    Clean hands hugs,

    Lenny

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    1. Lenny, welcome to WEP. Glad you joined us and wrote your haiku! Beautiful.

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  14. Hi Denise
    Oh so sad. Reminds me of Hotel Rwanda. I cried. I have a friend on Facebook that lives there now with his family. He messages me several times a month. He had COVID but survived. I wish I had the money to sponsor them and bring them to America, though, I'm still scared about Trumpsters and racist. Your story is well written. A great wave in the desert.
    Nancy

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    1. That was a horrifying film. So much suffering in the world and I tried to get that across.

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  15. Such a heartbreaking story, and it's sadly a reality for so many. I can't help but think how fortunate I am. No matter the struggles I've faced, I've never been a refugee an endured these kinds of terrors.

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    1. It's good to count our blessings. What did we do to be born in a country that doesn't face the challenges/corruption/destitution of some African states. And if he successfully saves his money and gets on a boat, does that end happily? I guess not.

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  16. Excellent job creating the thoughts of the character. I liked the sentence structure, showing his desperation and confusion. Most of us are so far removed from the 'world' you paint and your words bring us closer to reality.

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    1. I'm glad you saw it that way, Steph. It's hard for us to imagine this suffering.

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  17. It's so hard to believe that this is the life so many face. Even though we see it each day, and still, we turn our eyes away. It's heartbreaking when folks are fighting to be at the top of the billionaire's list instead of looking to see how they can make the world a better place. We all have a part, but the problem is so just so pervasive it'll take bigger pockets. If I ever wanted to believe in Hellfire, brimstone, and all - it's now. Although now that I think about it, this Bez… guy looks a bit like the devil.
    Priorities are all wrong...all wrong!
    And now the pandemic in Africa is really out of hand.

    Beautifully written. Thank you for reminding us to count our blessings...

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    1. Thanks Renee. It seems to be a problem beyond us.

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    1. Thanks! Finally someone said something. I do love it.

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  19. Heartbreaking story. You really hit hard with that, and the prose is powerful. I'm torn about 50-50 between him making that move to end it all--and submitting for now to live and escape and make a new life another day.

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    1. I couldn't bring myself to kill him off. I want to hope that somehow he gets through this and honors his family and village.

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  20. Dark and chilling. Great take on the prompt as usual, Denise. You made the whole refugee issue come alive, as also the Sahara. And the pandemic hasn't exactly improved things for people like Abioye, has it? It's all just spiralled out of control and no-one seems to care about Africa, look what's happening to vaccination there...it makes one despair really. I don't know why we as a species can't understand that no-one is safe unless we all are - and that's not just the pandemic, it's everything..

    I'm glad though it ends where it does. I hope Abioye will escape somehow, reach the other shore, grow up and work in refugee rehab and make his homeland and the world a kinder place. We desperately need him to.

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  21. Hi,
    This is so sad. It hurts my heart. You have revealed the plight of a young man after seeing everyone and everything he loves destroyed. The saddest thing about this story is that this really happens and many of us in civilize countries close our eyes.
    Though sad, it is beautifully written.
    Shalom aleichem

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  22. Oh my, I didn't see that one coming. How sad!

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  23. Oh my, I didn't see that one coming. How sad!
    - C J Austin

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  24. Heartbreaking but sounded so real Denise. The trip through the desert was spellbinding. Loved the detailing.
    Sonia

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  25. Spellbinding is right Denise. Awesome writing. You truly transported us to another place, a place so real for many. I loved „Wave after wave of humans escaping privation, destitution, murderous gangs, a future without hope. Their destination? The boats. The sea. Freedom.“ There‘s hope there and yet we are all calling out to him „No, not the boats“ because we know that that too can be hell as can what comes after. Thank you for not ending it there... this cries out for more...

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  26. Beautiful and heart-rending. You captured the place as well as the person. If only...

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  27. Thank you Denise for this poignant tale. The pace is hauntingly effective. A bit too close to reality for those who undergo such experiences, so not very joyful enough, personally. Freedom and Hope come across well though. Wishing you a restful summer of reading and writing. Take care.

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    1. No, Susan, it's not very joyful, but I fear realistic. You take care too. I'm enjoying a winter of writing!

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  28. Beautiful piece that reflects his pain and betrayal. Keep going!

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  29. This powerful piece showcases a tragic slice of reality. Terrible things continue to happen to people every day. It's such a helpless feeling to wish I could do something to help and know that there is nothing that I can do.
    Your post is included in this week's Roost Recommendations. I share the Roost Recommendations posts on Twitter with readers looking for their next read.
    https://ornerybookemporium.blogspot.com/2021/06/roost-recommendations-15-june-2021.html

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    1. Thanks Ornery Owl. We'd all like to help, but our governments make us powerless.

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  30. I loved the use of the metaphorical wave in your submission, Denise. And I pulled for him even though I knew he was up against the impossible.

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  31. Heartbreaking. And the needs of refugees are a storm we will all need to weather together.

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    1. Yes, Anne, if we don't help these countries where the refugees flow from, we'll all be overwhelmed in the end.

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