The state of being united or forming a whole
The action of uniting or the fact of being united
African name meaning united
Stop it hands! Stop shaking! I need you to feel the way out of here. Along this wall. One hand here. One hand there. Stay apart. Feel for danger. Closer. Feel for something useful. One here, one there. Keep going.
I can’t think. My head can’t think. Too many moans. So much wailing. There may be many people here. I can’t tell. Sticky fluid keeps running into my eyes. Too much sticky fluid. Maybe from my head. Rubbing my eyes is bad. I found that out. Like sand in my eyes.
What’s that? What’s there? My whole life in this same island. Where am I? Now, I don’t know. The man carrying me suddenly screamed. Now he is gone. Washed away. How long ago was that?
There hasn’t been a call to prayer. I wonder what the hour is. Is it morning or night? My stomach tells me it has been a long time. Water, I don’t need. Too much swallowed already.
I really have to shut my ears to the noise. Think about finding help. The sounds of the adults are bearable but the children… Oh. Oh, my family. Noooo…
Move one hand. Move the other. Move one foot. Move the other. On and on. I’m so tired. On and on.
What is this? Horrible thing. A face. I think I felt a face. Did I scream out loud? Is it alive? It feels like a man’s face. Dead. Another dead one. A few words in prayer then use my toes to find a way past him.
I can’t feel anywhere clear to go. I guess I will have to try to move the man. If I push hard enough he may move to let me through. Now, bend down. Feel for his legs. Push him over to the side. Maybe I can crawl over him.
Ah! What is that? Rumbling. The earth. No, not again. Please god. Stand up! Hard against the wall. Don’t get swept away. More fluid in my eyes. What is happening?
It’s all quiet again. The world hasn’t moved. I’d better try again. That wailing isn’t as loud. Some are losing their voices. Maybe, more than their voices. No, I won’t think about that. Back down to the man. Move. Where are you going to fall?
“Oh! Help me. Please help me.”
What is that noise? Is that voice in my head?
“Help. Please. Is anyone there?”
No. A real voice. Is it coming from the ground? Who else is there? I will spread my hands and move them out, bit by bit. Maybe I will find something.
Ah. What is this? So soft. Cloth of a rich person. I’ve never felt anything like this. It doesn’t feel real.
“My baby. Where is he? Oh, god. Have you seen my baby? Is he alive?”
Follow the river of slippery cloth. A hand. A female hand. No!! That is forbidden. Did anyone see?
“Help me, please. Help me.”
She sounds hurt. If I squat, I can put my ear close to the ground. Maybe then I will know what she is saying. Be careful not to touch the woman. I know she is very close. She is injured. I know that. I don’t need my eyes. I can hear the pain. It is in her voice. She has lost someone. That is in her voice too. Well, I have also lost lady. Her words are strange. What does she say?
“I need to find my baby. Can you help me? I can’t move my leg. My poor child. He will be so cold. And hungry. He’s only tiny. Help me, please.”
Of course. A mother’s tears. I have heard them before in my village. The woman is missing her child. She lost it. Well, the others are missing their children too. I can’t help her. What can I do with no sight? I can still see the horrible things though. They will never leave my sight. Everything swept away. I saw that. I will always see that.
The woman’s cries are getting worse. How to get by her? I will try to find the other side of this path. Use my feet. Ignore the cries. Move. Don’t stop. Don’t listen.
“Are you there? Please. Please, be kind. Help me. Oh my god. My baby, my precious baby. Where is he? Please. Don’t leave me!”
She won’t stop. I can’t stand this. Maybe I can just move her somewhere. Then she can get someone to help her. Someone else. Someone who understands her. I have my own troubles. My own family to find. Does she not see that? Is anyone helping my family?
Feel around. What can I use to help her? Good. Some line. Maybe fishing line. Has it been washed in with the sea today? The boats should have been safe. They should have ridden on top of the big wave. Did they? Are these friends also lost?”
“What are you doing? Oh dear god. Get your hands off of me! Help me. Someone, please help me. This man, what is he doing to me?”
I wish she would stop babbling. Her voice hurts my ears. It is so loud. It pierces the air like a seabird’s shriek. Not like my Lali. Her soothing voice. Where is she? No! I am not going to think about her. I will help this woman. Lali would want me to. That feels tight enough. Let’s go lady. You must help me.
“What did you say? Are you trying to help me? Do you want me to do something? I will push with my good arm and leg. Does that help you? Are we going to look for my baby? Thank you, oh thank you.”
Ugh. What has she done? How can she touch my hand with her lips? That is forbidden. What kind of woman is she? I should leave her to die. She is not one of my kind. That I know. Touch a man. Never!
“What have I done? Oh no. Please don’t leave me. Come back. Please. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
Her crying is making me crazy. I will try one more time. If she tries that again I will leave her. Leave her to die.
Am I going the right way? It feels cooler. Maybe it is darker. No. There are different sounds. Are we in a cave? Maybe a tunnel? I wish I could see. Where was I when the water came? I can’t remember.
“Where are you going? You just walked into a wall. Be careful. Wait. You will fall on that rock. Please be careful. Can you feel me pulling your trousers? Look down. Here. Look at me. Please, let me help. Why are you looking over there? I am here. Here. Look. Here is my hand. Here. Oh. You can’t see. Can you?”
I will not listen to her. She is always talking, crying, moaning. A lot for someone hurt. I wish I could see her. Why is she pulling on me like that? First one leg, then the other. One, then the other. Over and over. Each time my foot bangs something. Yes, there she goes again. Pull my leg, stub my toe. Stop it.
Maybe she is trying to tell me something?
“Right. Go to your right. Yes! That’s it.”
Is she able to see? Maybe it isn’t dark. Can others see in here? Is my sight totally gone? No!
“Don’t cry. Please. You will be okay. Don’t give up.”
I must keep going. I will get better. I will find my family. Okay lady. Let’s try together. You pull and I’ll go the way you want.
How much further can I go? She is very heavy. My shoulders hurt. Ah. Wind on my face. Waterspray. Is it from the sky? It is quiet.
“Stop! You must stop! There’s a man. He’s alive. I saw him move. You must stop!”
I wish she would stop pulling my leg. I can’t move with her hanging onto it like that. What is that noise? It’s something moving! A large animal. Can I tie the line to it? Maybe help to pull the woman.
“Hello. Help. Hello. Can you hear me? Help me please. I’m trapped. The rocks are too heavy.”
A man. Nearby. Where? To my right?
“That’s it. You are near me now. Another few feet, that’s all.”
Oh. That’s sharp. Is he under me? This rock is moving. Maybe he is trapped under it. I’ll just give it a push. Can I make it move? Yes! There’s some movement. More. Yes! Heh, don’t grab my legs. What is he doing? Is he trying to stand up? Should I help him?
“Thank you. You are my saviour. I’ve been here for ages. I didn’t know if anyone else was left alive.”
“He can’t understand you. He found me quite a ways back and has been helping me move along. We’re looking for my baby. He was in my arms. I tried to hold on to him. The water was too strong. I didn’t even feel him go. He’s out there somewhere. I just know it.”
The man and woman are speaking together. They understand each other. What are they saying?
“I think my leg is broken. I can’t use it. He has pulled me for ages. Will you help us? He can’t see. We are moving too slow. My baby is out there somewhere on his own. We’ve got to find him!”
What are they talking about now? What is happening? Get away from me.
“I’ll tie the line between him and me. See if you can hold onto it. Maybe together we can help each other.”
What has he put around my waist? It’s tugging at me. I can’t resist it. Is he taking me somewhere? Can he see? Should I follow the pulling? Will we get to somewhere safe? What about the woman? Are we going to leave her to die?
“Now, come on you two. Let’s go.”
The man is speaking again. There is a lot of weight on the line. Oh, I get it. The woman is holding on to the line between us. Together that should be easier.
“How much longer? Can you see anything? Can you see a baby at all? Where is he? Oh god.”
“Don’t give up. Keep going. Maybe someone rescued him. We must get out of here soon. Others will have made it as well.”
The woman has been crying again. The man said something to her. She never stops crying. I wish there was someone I could speak to. Where are my family? And my friends? They can’t all be gone. So many. Where are they all?
How many hours? We are many now. I can hear lots of voices. People joined together. Helping each other. Someone gave me a drink of fresh water. Did he understand my words of thanks?
“Look! What’s that ahead?”
“Light! An opening! Hurray!”
What ‘s all that shouting? Have they seen something? What’s happening? The line is loose. Rocks falling nearby. I can hear someone moving over stones. Are they climbing? Other voices calling. Far away. Shouting. There is no one in front of me now. Someone is pulling me under my arms. Up in the air. Where is the earth? Reach with my toes. Thank god. There it is. And the sun. I can feel the sun. There are lots of people. Hugging. Clapping. The man and woman are talking together.
“People worked together. Helped each other. No barriers. And now in the camp it will be the same. And we have found your son. What is his name, your baby?”