By Shruti Shreya:
I open my eyes in pain. There’s a face looming over me. It is a nice man here who smiles at me. He is different. He looks pale, almost white in color. He is not from my village. It looks like he lived in a place where there was no sun. I would want to go to that place one day and see if my color changes, or maybe if I washed my face really hard with this little water in this container on the small table beside my bed.
He is talking to me now, making movements with his hands. He is asking me if I understand him, his language. I nod my head to tell him that I do. I have been to school and have learnt this language, his language, called English. He asks me how I am feeling. I point towards the little red itchy spots and make a face. I want to tell him how much they itch and hurt. He tells me I have something called Measles. It is a disease. He informs me that many children of my village have it.
I am now sitting on my bed and can see some familiar faces lying in the little beds here. They seem to be feeling the same pain as me. Next to my bed is a boy I recognize from my class when we had them. His name is Ahmad. I look at his bony body, then at mine and then at the pale man’s body. I wonder why his body is different than ours. We have a lot of bones but he doesn’t. I look at the white scary thing standing by itself, lonely lonely, in the corner. I was once told by my teacher that our bodies look like that under our skin. That we are made of something called bones. I believe my teacher. We all have bones. I can see it in everyone’s body here. But why are all the pale people here without bones? Have they come from another planet? Or are they like plants, but talking and moving like us?
While I am thinking all this, I feel someone tugging at my shirt. It is Ahmad. He remembers me. I smile at him. He doesn’t smile back. Just gives me a strange look. Of confusion. He doesn’t understand what is happening or know where we are. I look around and try to read the writing on the pale man’s white clothes. It says “Doctors Without Borders”. I explain to Ahmad that these pale people are doctors, that they are here in our village to help us.
Suddenly two of these doctors come to my bed with a torch and many types of equipment to examine me. They are talking amongst themselves and I catch a word: “Malnutritioned”. I wonder what that means. They now want to insert some tubes in me. They tell me not to be scared and that it will feed me. I look at Ahmad in confusion and wonder why I cannot eat like how I did when we were able to find food. But that was when my mother was alive. Before she was all bloody in the chest. My uncle Khalid had told me that she was hit with a bullet. It is a round metal thing they put in guns to kill people. I still have pieces of it from my mother’s body wrapped in a cloth around my neck. I hold on to it tightly and think about my father who died of hunger some days back. There was no food and water here in my village Mayando, something that one these pale people with a stick like thing in his hand called “drought”. I remember the word because it killed half my village.
A nice pale lady, who is also a doctor comes to me and holds my hand. She wants to know who I am.
“My name is Kahlifa and I am six years old. I used to go to school but now I don’t after it was blown up by some bad men with guns and bombs.” I tell her I think I live in this place that you pale people call Somalia.