if you are a dinka child, say, 13 months old and have around your waist
a circle of beads looped twice, mostly white ones but every fifth is a
blue like the dawn sky, and you are naked and lying on the
cracked black plastic of a hospital bed in the abyei emergency room at
ten pm, and you are surrounded by your mother and father a nurse and a
midwife who is trying to blow air into your lungs with a mask twice too
big, and it’s not working, and the Canadian doctor arrives in time to
watch you take your last ten breaths, and you stop, and you die, then
this is what happens.
your mother screams. your family outside of the emergency room,
an impressive number of aunts, uncles, and their friends, start to
wail. your father sits down on the other bed, impassive. he
puts his face in his hand and looks through his fingers. your
mother leaves, and the emergency door shuts behind her.
a nurse puts one hand over your eyes, and uses the other to close your
mouth. he holds them both closed until a piece of cloth can
be placed over your face. through it, he keeps your eyes and
mouth fast. another nurse begins to wrap gauze around your head.
again and again and again, until they are sure your mouth and eyes are
closed and safe. the midwife removes your intravenous and cleans
your skin of blood. someone takes a small piece of string and
binds your large toes together, to keep your legs closed, then wraps
your feet. your hands are placed grasping the other, and your
thumbs are bound. your fingers sit like piano keys,
folded neatly next to the other. your hands and your wrists
are covered with gauze. last, you are lifted onto a piece of coloured
cloth, and wrapped a final time. the door is opened, and an
older woman (your grandmother?), comes and takes you from the room.
from there, where? this is where I lose you. this is
part of the story I can’t tell. my story goes on at a thousand
miles an hour, different things in all directions, so many I
don’t know where to begin. but yours is done, and there is one
bit of it I don’t know. this tiny, final mystery is yours to