My dear sons, my dear daughters:
my heart is breaking and I feel like giving in, because I know you are missing the friendly hand, the laughter at home, and the jokes among siblings along the school days of your own kids.
I know that each day the road seem stormy to you, but I ask you to be strong in your minds. I ask you to believe that you will see our country at its best. I want you to believe that sunshine will come after the rain. The joy will follow your pain. I ask you all – please – to make courage your daily guide. I know some of you will not grow old, but we will always remember them.
You are the men and the women always on stand-by for this country you love so much. You gave all you had to see it free and – yet – today all you see is your days encircled by barbed wire. And you ask – please God can I go home?
On days when the sky is clear, I know you gaze into it. I do too. So does your elderly fathers sitting in the yard and staring at the gate of our house. Waiting for you to push it and come for lunch.
You are the ones forced to stand-by, our beloved daughters and beloved sons. Your days encircled with wire and more barbered wire surrounding your places of detention.
You and I know your captors’ fear: to see your families and your people coming by to rescue you.
My beloved children, some of you are sick. And you lost your sight from diabetes and more diseases. But you can see the barbered wires from the north, going back to the south of the land holding you. Barbered wire to infinity! It does not give you hope, but I wish you know that our love can pierce the walls and you can hear our fights to free you.
We parents, can only pray and ask you to never to quit. Some days when this war is over we will have records of the various deeds. One day my children you will leave this place as if it was a bad dream. The parents will receive a letter saying: “Your child was prisoner of war and now is free”. To us that will be music to our ears, because you will all be ours always more.
Our old disarrayed bodies sunk more in a restless sleep. I ask, sons are you a prisoner of war? You told me the war was over? What is your crime then? I scream your names, but only echo care to answer to me.
You fought the enemy to bring hope and freedom. Are you prisoners my sons, my daughters?
You fought the storm, you made it back home and today you are the prisoners of which war? Sometimes we lose our minds and call you all for supper. Your Dad and your Mom are short of words to understand that for 15 years you are now the prisoners.
I gaze to the sky and ask the Creator to guide you to me.
You ask us to remember the battles you led yesterday. The dreams of your yesterdays and the hopes for our tomorrows.
You might be asking am I the prisoner for the last 15 years? What is my crime? When is my day in court?
The comrades you hear around you, are they prisoners? You all bow your head for those you lost to the unknown betrayal.
You ask us: Will you remember us today? We are Eritrean Veterans!
You tell us: around us barbered wire to the North and the South. Some more towards the hill. We are Veterans, do you remember?
Will you remember us today? We are fighting a battle not with guns and bullets, but the constant verses in my fragile mind forcing me to the side of sanity. Asking me to never give up. But I am serving a life sentence and cannot take it anymore. From the small window of my cell I see a lonely star perching atop the sky. It becomes my beacon of hope. I feel alone in this battle ground with no rules for war. For, I am the one with no weapon, no hope.
I can feel the breeze in my face at night. I feel in pain, but never humiliated because I know I am here as a prisoner of war defending my country’s future.
When they brought us here, in each cell we were two in number.
For Five Thousands Four Hundred Seventy Five (5,475) days, the man sat on the chair and me on the floor of my cell. He held a blank piece of paper and a pen.
The door never opens. The man never leaves me. He cannot ask me questions, nor explain why I am a prisoner of war.
All these years, I sat on the floor and he sat on a roped chair. I was the prisoner and he the torturer. For weeks, he glances at me. And then he leaves my cell.
I was never told why we are prisoner of war. We are Veterans!
September 18th, 2016