Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I had maybe the worst nightmare of my life shortly after arriving in Rwanda.

I don’t remember all of the details, but I remember that …

Jacob and I knew that we had to escape, now.

We got in the backseat of the car. My mom was driving. An armed guard pulled us over to look over Jacob’s papers. “Hey, these are fake—“ he started, so I yelled at my mom, “Go, go, go!” And we pealed out of there and drove to a hiding place where we hurriedly tried to pack, gather belongings, and escape. All my friends and family from home were there…

We got to an area where there was one checkpoint left and then we would be free. I was filled with relief because somehow I knew  there was going to be a happy ending to this story. Like all films should have. Even in my dream I was confident that we would survive…

As all my friends and family bustled about making the preparations, presumably to cross the border to freedom and safety, I walked into a deserted mobile home to use the restroom. Melissa, a neighbor from back home, came in as well. I was joking with her about how I almost forgot to zip up before leaving when she started screaming.

I turned to see countless soldiers running over the horizon. They began to slaughter everyone I knew. I didn’t watch. I urged Melissa to get down. My only thought was to pretend to be dead and wondered if there was ketchup around so that I could smear it on myself to fool them. I laid there, hoping they hadn’t seen Melissa screaming at the window, hoping she wouldn’t give us away now, hoping they would be fooled by my pretending if they opened the door. My mind was blank with fear. I wondered if it would hurt. My mind was not on my loved ones—there was no room for the thought. It was only consumed with fear of the immediate future.

Mercifully, I woke up, simultaneously chilled to the bone and sweating, and I thought: “I think I understand Rwandans a little better now.”

Only for them, of course, it was not a terrifying dream. It was reality.

I grew up learning about the Holocaust, “because it’s important to never let it happen again.” Little did I know, it had happened again, in Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia in the 70s, in Burundi, in the Congo, in Uganda, in places around the world

and here in beautiful, misty, green, hilly Rwanda.

There’s an injustice there.

Let’s stop saying “never again” and instead acknowledge that it has happened again, and it will happen again, so long as there exists ignorance of commonalities and fear of differences in the human heart, and a government which exploits that ignorance and fear,  that mentality of Us versus Them.


1 comment:

oh said...

It's a good thing I was driving Jacob's 350Z in your dream so that I could accelerate away from danger like that. Whew, that was a close call!

I don't ever have danger dreams like that one . . .

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