Between Belonging and Dying
In the restless darkness of this final night, the dense salty air stung the faces of all who sat crammed on the tiny boat. The dancing water undulated with quiet indifference as it rocked their boat from side to side. All the groaning and rumbling was now muffled and there was relative quiet as taut muscles battled with the paddles to get them to shore.
All the children were in the middle and with them sat Aisha, heavy and expecting. She was breathing heavily as she struggled to catch a wink, but sleep was elusive tonight. All around her, she saw the faces of everyone, calm yet visibly tense even in the darkness.
It was the twelfth night they’d spent on the water, with its endless blue and its face that mocked the sky. The sands of the old shore were lost now and only the new shore awaited. Yet each new day had found them looking at blue waters on all sides, cowering under the sun. Aisha dreaded the fourteenth day. Her husband, hard at rowing, cast her knowing looks from time to time.
She was awakened from her brief sleep by a loud sound. She sat up suddenly and felt the baby kick uncomfortably in her belly. It was dawn now and she soon understood the reason for the noise — someone had spotted the light of the new shore. The new home where they would belong.
The chatter in the boat returned to the vigour it had on the day they left the old shore. When people had been happy to leave their old land with all its bloodshed. Now hope could be felt in the tremor of their voices. A little more paddling and soon they were at shore, kneeling, surrounded by soldiers pointing guns and shouting foreign words. As though summoned, her first contraction came. Aisha cried out. Her husband suddenly stood up from where he was kneeling to come to her. And they shot him. With such a loud blast that her water broke.