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Massacre of the innocents
December 11, 2008
voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, it was Rachel,
weeping for her children. She refused to be consoled for they were
no more." (Matthew 2:18)
Rachel wept as they buried
her 6 year old daughter. Who would have known that going to school
would mean death for her bright eyed child? Who knew that she would
come home barely able to walk, continuous diarrhoea a deadly torrent
down her legs. They buried her frail body wrapped in a plastic bag
thrust into a cheap coffin, purchased by the dozen by the do-gooder
aid agencies. That day they buried 30 men and women. Was it supposed
to be consolation that 600 women, men and children had also lost
their lives to this plague? Rachel only knew that her child, flesh
of her flesh, blood of her blood was gone.
Rachel wept when she
buried her sister. When Leah's husband left to look for work
in South Africa, Leah was joyful. Maybe the poverty that had dogged
their family since the factory closed would now be a thing of the
past. Maybe now their three children could go to school and go to
bed at night with a full belly. Leah waited and waited for the money
to come. The money did not come. She heard that he was living with
another woman in Johannesburg. Then one day he appeared in the gloom
of twilight. You could see the jut of his collar bones through the
thin shirt he was wearing. He did not look like the man who had
left home back in 1999 when the troubles in the country really started.
He lived on and on for two more years. And Leah looked after him.
He was still her husband after all. She sold all their meagre possessions
to get him the medicines that he needed. Still he died. All Leah
had left was poverty. And AIDS. Rachel thinks it is the hopelessness
and despair that finally got Leah. Who wouldn't despair if
they were forced to stand at the street corner, selling their body
in order to feed three hungry mouths? Now Rachel weeps when she
looks at her nieces. What future for them female, poor and orphaned?
She wonders and worries; are they also destined for the streets?
Rachel wept when she
went home. It had been a while since she had heard from her mother.
Back before the economy collapsed she could go home to the village
every Easter and Christmas holiday. Now she could only visit her
mother once a year if she was lucky. Rachel's mother was an
old woman living in the village with her 12 grandchildren. She gave
birth to 9 children. Now only Rachel was left. And 15 grandchildren.
All orphans. Rachel was taking Leah's 3 children to their
grandmother. How could Rachel look after them in town? How would
they live in the one-room they were now renting after their home
was destroyed back in 2005? Rachel wept when she got to the village.
There was no life here. Death and hunger stalked the land. The children
were scattered. Driven from home by hunger. Rachel wept as she buried
her mother. At 86, she was too old to survive for 4 days without
food and water. With her grandchildren gone, no one thought to bring
her water. No one remembered her when they went to collect their
rations from the food aid people. Everyone said it is hunger that
killed her but deep inside her Rachel believes her mother died of
a broken heart. No mother should have to bury her 8 children and
their wives and husbands. One was liable to go mad with grief or
waste away from despair. She just gave up.
Rachel wailed when the
baby came. This baby conceived from hate. You would think that nature
would abhor such violation; that her body would refuse to nurture
this product of a hateful crime. Her body refused to reject the
pregnancy. It fed it and nurtured it. When the birth pains came
Rachel wailed. The agony reminded her of the night of the violation.
They came for her husband in the darkness of night, singing and
chanting, carrying sticks and whips. He had gone into hiding when
he heard that they were looking for him. When she could not produce
him they turned on her. First beating her and then raping her. Now
this child of a nameless and faceless monster had come. Was she
expected to love him? Nurture him? Suckle him from the same breast
that had been hacked by a whip, even as he was being conceived?
Her husband was coming home. He always believed that one should
not stand aside while evil prospered. All he ever wanted was for
his children to live a life of dignity. Would he think that this
child too deserved a life of dignity, though not his flesh? Could
this innocent too be loved, though conceived in hate?
When Rachel walks the
streets of Harare; she peers closely at the faces of the street
urchins. Her heart skips a beat as she sees her brother's
eyes in one child's grime-smeared face. Sometimes she imagines
she sees her sister's smile in the face of that girl who tries
so hard to look indifferent as she stands outside the supermarket
asking for food and change. It haunts her.
Rachel weeps and wails.
Loud crying and mourning for all the innocents who continue to be
sacrificed. They told her to shut up and hush the wailing. Rachel
could not. They came for Rachel as she slept the fitful sleep of
the tormented. She wept as they chained her to the wall and beat
her for daring to bear witness to the truth. Rachel wailed as they
asked her to confess to speaking the truth. In her agony she recalled
the words of one holocaust survivor watching as a young boy was
executed and from the depths of her despair she echoed his words
"where is God, where is He?
Come back home Jestia
. . .
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