Zarmeenay tossed in agony as the pain ripped through her body; unrelenting, blotting out all her thoughts. She screamed again, waves of pain tearing her body apart. A streak of tears streamed down her face, she closed her eyes and everything around her vanished. She felt very light, drifting away in darkness, her senses blurring and being dimly aware of the sounds that cocooned her: the midwife shouting excitedly, an acute cry of the baby, her husband calling her name. Her brain convinced her that she was hallucinating but someone suddenly gripped her hand and startled her to the reality. She was in the best room of the small house, the sheets soaked in blood. “It couldn’t be”, something visceral inside struggled as the old midwife deposited the boy in her arms. She managed a weak smile, hot tears blurring the vision of the angel she had just took up in her shaking arms. She nuzzled the baby against her sweat drenched shirt and closed her eyes. Cry or smile? The choice was difficult.

She washed the dishes in the morning sun, the clod water making her gasp at times. As she turned with the splintered wood bucket towards her mud baked house, her gaze fell upon Abu Ayub, her ten years old son. He was busy playing with the boys, bursting with energy, screaming and laughing as he kicked the ball every now and then. His hazel eyes shone in the sunlight and his dirt colored hair bounced as he jumped. Zarmeenay smiled at his sight. Her son was her entire life, a life she loved so dearly but a life that was plummeted in danger of her world. She was both happy and sad at his birth. The ladies mocked her accused her of being so cold but in the depths of reality, she was all correct. In this world, conceiving a baby meant giving way to a new life, protecting the fragile fragments of clotted blood, nourishing it but in Rohingya, it was the opposite. Every birth was a new death, every mother gave way to the decided death of their babies as they pushed them out of their wombs. Every Muslim child came with his fate written by the Buddhist monks: to die at the hands of brutality. Zarmeenay shivered at the thought. The fear had crept into her marrow, has been flowing in her blood for years. Then one rainy night, it leapt out of her transforming into a bitter reality. Abu Ayub was taken away by the Buddhists.

Abu Ayub was not alone, other Muslim boys were taken too. The boys were kept in the dark, chained, for several days. They lived on dry bread, cried for their families but their cries absorbed in the thick darkness. Nobody was their to listen  and why would anybody listen? Days passed and then one day came the brutal part. They were beaten ruthlessly with leather belts, sticks until their body wailed of their suffering. Their heads were shaved and then they were trafficked to the town where they now sit and beg the people for money. The amount collected is taken by the Buddhist traffickers who in return, assure the boys of their living. Among these, is Abu Ayub, sitting on a dirty mat, palms open and hopefully looking towards the passers-by with tearful eyes. His left arm in crippled and turned away from his body at an awful angle. The bruises and cuts are visible through his ragged shirt. He is the most favorite of the traffickers because he collects the most money.    

Hundreds of miles away, there is Zarmeenay who now works in people’s houses to earn bread for her and her paralyzed husband. She never smiles, yet is chained with guilt of the sin she committed: bringing Abu Ayub to this bad world. If it was not her, Abu Ayub would have been safe in the heavens. Her scars still screamed, through the mist of her eyes, through the cracks of her skin. There are thousands of guilty Zarmeenay and loads of helpless Abu Ayub in Rohingya who share the same fate. Their silence yells for justice from the world who cries foul about 'human rights'. If only anyone would dare to listen and care to alleviate their pain...

Huda Ehsan

Angels International College
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