27/04/2018 23:85 PM
A soldier’s story – our story, where more needs to be done
My beloved grandmother always told me to never stop being independent. She said “never count on anyone to make you walk through life. Never count on a man to feed you and your kids. Be educated. If you decide to put aside your career and raise a family, let the man beside you know that at any time you could leave and subsidize yourself”.
She made me understand that women are not irrelevant, maybe emotional but never irrelevant. A strong woman is a respected woman, she said. Being strong is not a competition of screaming loud, slamming the door after a quarrel but to strive and try to be first in all you do, she added. She also taught me that if I arrive second, I should congratulate the woman ahead of me. As well as the man ahead of me, if he only achieved on his own merits and not because of the place society offered him as a male.
All this gave me a steadiness and consistency in my life. A surplus in my flow of thinking. It shaped me and gave me strength in all I faced in life. But many times over, all this we – Eritrean women - were forced to relegate in a second position during the war and mainly when women lost a husband, who happened to be the breadwinner. When it happened to me, my feminist stance inherited directly from my grandmother stood in contradiction with my financial dependency from my family and from my expectation of a shred of humanity from my in-laws’. This was not mine or my husband’s own making. But it was a reality of a country at war in specific time.
At present Eritrean women are forced to subordinate to men in all given societies. They cross deserts and put their feet on water because they inherited a carved destiny made of men jailed, or killed. By a society that constantly push them ten steps back and allow them to take only a step forward. Only one step.
Eritrean women, we are made to sail on a wave of confusion and always trying to collect the many pieces of “me” flying all around. The anger took over the principles my grandmother molded in my own “me”.
In the play of King Lear, betrayal is displayed and the components are the Shakespearean tragedy that follow the punishment. The characters that betray are eventually punished and destroyed by a sort of divine justice.
But here we are women that after centuries of the Shakespearean analysis of punishment by “divine justice” and a mind of our own that tells us to keep revenge as a first wish, the justice we hope to find only becomes the illegitimate child of abuse, trafficking and has no life or shape. A justice we cannot claim in any court. Because exploitation of women as refugees or as part of the constructive elements in the diaspora, has no writing with black ink on white paper and runs so deep that only fate can deal a hand of it. The good that raised us face the evil around us and the two fight to no end within the “me” in each of us. A refugee from Vietnam told me that – in all paradox- she felt that the day she was sworn in as a US citizen, she just felt that her heart was shredded in pieces, because the fight was over. She just had to figure out, which fight. So do I. Forty (40) years after losing my husband at the hands of the evil Ethiopian occupier, of running to the speed of light from homemade Eritrean cruelty and exploitation, from the permanent label of being “an immigrant” and from my country ruled by a wrong regime, I still try not to shred my heart and give up the fight born from my grandmother's advises.
April 27, 2018
"Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so powerful as hope. With hope, one can think, one can work, one can dream. If you have hope, you have everything."
" Peace is a wall we will all create by building it brick-by-brick together". (Trade mark)