The Sold Dream 3
Life in these make shift flimsy tents was no joke. It was degrading and inhuman to live here. The rains would seep through the canvas; many people would end up sick after the rainstorms because for a while even the international organisation, Doctors without borders was kicked out of Rakhine.
I remember one night not long after we got to the camps there was so much commotion as people braced themselves for the coming storm. The rains came and we all stayed as close to each other to keep warm because keeping dry was not an option. You might be wondering why we didn’t make a better plan. Some days before a man came and tried to make a structure out of leaves to keep us dry but as soon as he tested it to ensure it would work the soldiers came and took it down. In this place we are better off dead. The plight we suffer is a scene from a horror movie!
Many people were sick with bronchitis after the rain and we knew that even those needing help would not be seen by any international aid groups for days. The aid workers come once every few weeks if the soldiers allow them. Sometimes months go by before any one at the camp can medical care. Food on most days here is a luxury and sadly we are only given what the government allows into the camps. We are prisoners in this place.
Being a woman here is not easy the soldiers treat us like pieces of meat. The worst days are when you have your monthly menstrual cycle and are left to fend for yourself, using leaves, mud , rags or whatever else you can find to make that time of the month bearable. As a woman this is the most degrading thing to encounter. Life is a waiting game for us and the world watches us suffer this genocide but does nothing about it.
A group of us decided to sneak into town to see if we could find work, no matter what it was. An income meant being better off than we were. The moment we sat in the bus I had this knot in my stomach. I looked over at Amina and held her hand. I told her something was not ok, she smiled and told me I was over reacting as usual. I sunk into my seat feeling like the worst was yet to come. As the long drive began, the driver used all the back roads to avoid the no go areas. I drifted off to sleep and all I could see were images of my mother being burnt alive. Strange how life turns out when the crappy reality you find yourself in is better than the torment of your dreams. It’s strange how, even when surrounded by people, your existence doesn’t matter to a soul because you’re not wanted on any map anywhere in the world.
Suddenly a jolt in the road brought me back to reality and my gut told me to panic. Was it the Buddhists? I prayed it wasn’t them… please let it not be them. I prayed for Ayesha and myself. On many nights I lay awake and prayed for death to take me. The regime that was trying to exterminate us was growing stronger and more determined
I could hear the stomping grow closer as Ayesha and I hid under the seat, I lay on the ground too afraid to breathe in case my breath was loud enough to hear. Sweat began to build up on my forehead and the beads ran down my temples. I closed my eyes tight. like a child wishing to be invisible. All I could think of was that today would be the day I returned to my creator. The footsteps got closer and closer, I willed myself back to a happy time in Arakan. As a child you tend to see good in the world no matter how vile the reality is and I went to my safe place to kee calm.
A scream brought me back fast and as I opened my eyes I saw Ayesha being dragged away. When I looked up, I saw the solider from the camp looking down at me. He smiled and told Ayesha he had waited for this moment and he would now enjoy what was to come. I felt the anger build up inside me but that was quickly replaced by fear when I felt my legs being pulled, and I was dragged out from under the seat.
I screamed and kicked. I was told to shut up, be the dog I am and to open up. I fought as hard as I could but I wasn’t strong enough. “You Stupid Bengali!” I remember him saying as I bit his hand. He dropped me to the floor and began kicking me; soon other soldiers came as well.
The pain was unbearable I held my breath in the hope that I would pass out but that did not happen. A soldier forced me down and forced himself on top of me. I turned my head and my eyes caught Ayesha being raped. I felt sick and wanted to die hoping the bastards would kill me. They gang raped Ayesha and I in the bus, a never ending line of soldiers pleasuring themselves on ‘illegal Bengali filth’. With each soldier that came on top of me I my spirit died a little more and as the tenth or eleventh one pinned me down I realised that fighting back would only prolong the torture.
We were dragged back to the camp injured, bleeding and traumatised and the following night our captors began the cycle afresh.
You can hate them for burning down your home and stealing your land but nothing will compare with the revulsion and humiliation you feel when they take away your dignity. When you are raped you’re constantly living in fear. You can never trust another person again. Your mind and body become numb and you just drift through the agony of life. It’s not so much about losing your material possessions; it’s more about watching those around you lose all sense of humanity.