Stepping from the jeep my foot touches the dry dusty red earth. I feel a tingle all through my body. I have arrived.
We gather in a loose group, some are in tears, some laugh and chatter, others are in shock just standing looking everywhere, but nowhere.
I want to shout my joy but I can’t, my tongue has been cut out as a warning to others. Tears track through the furrows of my face and disappear into the parched earth leaving no sign of my pain and joy.
The noise is overpowering, the light is strong and bright, it hurts my eyes. There are colours and shapes all around like the flittering of brightly coloured birds. I am the only silent one. I am the only one alone.
I feel a tug at my elbow and turn. There he stands, a boy child with dusty toes and stained jeans, and a t-shirt proclaiming I love dinosaurs. His hair is dark and curly, he has sparkling blue eyes, as blue as the irises I grew in my garden. He looks at me, not through me, but at me. No one has looked at me for a long time.
He holds out his hand. He is the same age my boy would be.
‘My name is James, who are you? Where have you come from? Why are you crying? You are welcome here. Why do you wear a long dress? It is too hot for that.’
The words roll out in a rush and his face breaks into a cheeky smile.
I take his hand and smile. I indicate I can’t speak. He seems to understand. He holds tightly to my hand.
‘Come and meet my mum. Mum this is my friend. She can’t speak, but she has a lovely face. Well, what I can see of it. Do you understand English?’
‘Good. Can you write in English?’
Smiling, I reach into my pocket and take out a pad and pen. I write slowly, my name is Jamila.
He takes the pad from me, jumping up and down with excitement he says,
‘I know what that means, it means beautiful, I learned some Arabic words in school.’
His mother hushes him and hugs me, holding me close. We move apart, separate.
‘I’m Lizzie, and you’ll be staying with us. Welcome to our home. Are you alone?’
I nod and write, where is home?
‘It’s about 300 clicks from here, a bit of a drive. I travelled all day to bring you home.’
I turn to pick up my one bag. A dark cloud passes over the sun and the scene shifts. I am on the ground. I roll instinctively into a ball, there is a thud as the heavy boot connects with my shoulder.
I have been walking in my sleep and no-one has travelled to bring me home. I remain a prisoner with no name, only a number, behind the wire.
HOME was my entry for the Gary Crew Award 2016. The theme was ‘travelling to bring you home”. Congratulations to Wendy Holman on her winning piece. As the results have been announced I am now able to share this work with you. All images are public domain.