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Sylvie fell and picked herself up. Ngayabaseka remained behind, urging her on. “Don’t stop Sylvie. Keep running.” He looked back and saw that their assailants were too close to them. He swerved to the left around a tree and tackled one of the assailants down. He took his machete which had fallen off his hand and hacked him in the back. He lay on the ground in pain. As his men moved closer, Ngayabaseka sped off dashing in the direction he had last seen Sylvie. Soon, he saw her running through the brushes. Another man was closing the gap on them. He became worried that they would catch them. “Run Sylvie!” He yelled. This time, he stopped and attacked the man with the machete. The assailant was not expecting it. Caught off guard, he had little time to react. Ngayabaseka hacked him down, immobilizing him for the time being. He began to run again, yet there was another man on a hot chase behind him. “Traitor!” The man shouted. “You cut down my brother. I will kill you. Traitor!” He yelled as he ran powerfully towards Ngayabaseka. He stopped and engaged him. The man’s machete slashed his left leg, taking a decent chunk of his flesh. Ignoring the ensuing pain, he fought him back. The man aimed for his torso with his machete. Ngayabaseka ducked to the right and struck his attacker’s hand with his machete, cutting his machete loose.
“Are you going to kill me now?” The man asked. He looked at Ngayabaseka, bending slightly in a combat posture as though his bare hands could match the force of a machete. Ngayabaseka stood between him and his machete. “You are supposed to be a true Hutu. Why are you fighting for them? Because of a woman? You are a traitor. Dogs should feast on your carcass!!!” Ngayabaseka sighted another attacker dashing in the direction of Sylvie. He charged at the man in front of him and cut him down. He lacked the stomach to kill him, so he left him lying on the floor. He picked up his machete and dashed off with a machete in each hand. “Sylvie!!!” He shouted. “Ngayabaseka!!!” She replied. He ran in the direction of her voice. As he got closer, he saw a man chasing after her with a machete in hand. He was closing in on her. Although he was tired and bruised, Ngayabaseka increased his pace, He ran as fast as he could. Sylvie looked back and saw her chaser wielding a machete menacingly. Before she knew it, her foot hit against a tree stump sending her to the ground. Before she could scramble back to her feet, her attacker was standing over her raising his machete with chilling force. As his hand lowered with a menacing aim at Sylvie, Ngayabaseka leapt forward and stuck the man with his machete. He hit him so hard that his machete fell to the ground. He struck him in the leg, sending him to the ground. Then, he picked up the man’s machete and threw it far into the bush where he could not reach it.
He picked up Sylvie who was shaking with fear in his hands and cuddled her gently. “It is going to be okay, my love,” he said as she cried. She said nothing, coiling up in his arms like a safe haven. Their attacker lay on the ground wriggling in pain. “We have to leave now my love. We need to keep moving,” Ngayabaseka urged her. “Can we walk? I am so tired honey.” “Yes, my sweetheart. We will walk.” They both rose to their feet, and Ngayabaseka walked over to the man who was bleeding. His eyes got bigger; they were filled with fear. Anticipating the force of the machete at his neck, he closed his eyes, shaking feverishly as sheer petrification swept through him. His hand was bleeding profusely and there was a deep cut on the side of his belly. Ngayabaseka knelt beside him, placed a hand on his shoulder and said, “I hope you will be alright.” The man opened his eyes still shaking. He could not utter a word. He was immobilized; fear-ridden. Ngayabaseka tore a section of the man’s shirt and wrapped it around the wound on his arm. Then, he tore off another piece and wrapped it around the wound on his belly. As he rose to leave with Sylvie, the man said, “Thank you.” His voice was laced with guilt, shame and gratitude at the same time. “I hope your people find you soon, brother,” Ngayabaseka replied as he hurriedly left with Sylvie.
“You are a good man, Ngaya. I love you to bits.” “I wish I could be half as kind and loving as you are Sylvie. I am really blessed to have you,” he answered as they began to wade through the bush, going nowhere in particular. They walked for six hours before they found a river. They both took a dip in the water. After resting, they came upon wild pineapples. Ngayabaseka cut them open and they both munched on as much as they could. They feasted ravenously on them, rested for some time and headed north of the river. After a few more hours, they sighted children wandering through grassy plains. There were four of them. They looked terrified. Their ages seemed somewhere around 12-15. There were three boys and a girl. Ngayabaseka and Sylvie walked towards them. As soon as they stepped out of the bushes onto the grassy plane, the children fell to their knees, ravaged by fear. “Let’s run, one of them said. They all began to run, springing quickly to their feet. “We are not going to kill you. We are running for dear lives too,” Ngayabaseka shouted. They stopped and looked sharply at them; suspicious of them both.
Ngayabaseka dropped his machetes and walked towards them with Sylvie following right behind. “You look like a Hutu,” one of the children observed, pointing at Ngayabaseka. “Yes, I am, but I am not a killer. This is my wife, Sylvie, and she is Tutsi. Sylvie smiled broadly. She was fighting back tears as she thought of her slain children. She badly wanted to help those children. “Stay with us please. We will protect you. You can’t make it any far alone,” she appealed to them. “But your husband is Hutu,” another child pointed out. “How I look…How we look, those don’t matter as nearly as who we truly are on the inside. That is what counts. I am Hutu, but we are all the same before God. I have red blood like you and not Hutu blood. I breathe the same air as you. I have lost my wonderful children and parents in-law in this senseless and evil cleansing. You don’t have to walk alone. Walk with us. We can help you. Perhaps, you too can help us,” Ngayabaseka said. “I am tired and hungry. Please let’s walk with them,” the girl amongst the children pleaded. Sylvie offered them some pineapples which they quickly devoured.
Together, they walked for days until they entered Kenya. Through United Nations intervention, they began life all over in Kenya. Ngayabaseka and Sylvie managed to restart their medical practice some years after. They adopted all four children. The pain of losing their children, parents and parents in-law continued to haunt them, but they found strength and solace in their new four children, who loved them immeasurably. They had found new parents since their biological parents had all been killed during the crisis. One day, Ngayabaseka was walking through the hospital wards, when a man appeared from nowhere and hugged him. “This is you…It was you! Yes, it was you,” the man said as he held tenacious onto him. “I am not sure I know you,” Ngayabaseka protested politely. “Thank you. Thank you!!!” The man continued to shout. “Were you my patient in the past?” “No, but you saved my life. You spared my life.” By now, a small crowd of nurses, patients and other doctors had gathered around them. “I was a monstrous killer during the cleansing in Rwanda. I hunted down Tutsis and killed them in their numbers. I was after you and your Tutsi wife and you injured me to save your wife, whom I was about to hack to death. Deep in the forest, you remember? You came from behind and hacked me down. You had the opportunity to kill me, but you spared my life. You even took the time to tie up my wounds. You saved my life. Thank you!”
The man had tears in his eyes. “I have given up my life to God. I had to after what you did that day. I am ashamed. Please pray for me. I still see the faces of men and women that I killed in my sleep.” “It is okay. If you have asked God for forgiveness, I am sure he has forgiven you. It is okay.” That night, Ngayabaseka invited the man, whose name was Shingiro to his home. He had called Sylvie to announce that he was bringing the man, home and Sylvie was happy to host their assailant-turned-friend. When they reached home, Sylvie was at the door to receive them. As soon as they entered the living room, Shyaka, Sylvie and Ngayabaseka’s oldest child began to shiver with fear. Sweat formed on his forehead almost instantly and he began to shout. Sylvie grabbed him. “What is the matter Shyaka?” She asked. Ngayabaseka and Shingiro were confused. Frederick, Boniface and Ruth, their other children ran downstairs having heard Shyaka’s loud wail. They too froze in their tracks. “It is him!!! It is him!!!” They shouted, stepping backwards. Then it dawned on everyone. Shingiro had been the leader of the group that killed their different parents during the cleansing.
It took Ngayabaseka and Sylvie hours to calm the children down. Shingiro did not remember them. He fell to his knees and asked for their forgiveness. “I am sorry for what I did to your parents. Please forgive me. If not now, please forgive me someday. The faces of your parents haunt me in my sleep. I wake up feeling like I am covered in the blood of innocent people that I killed. Please forgive me,” he pleaded fervently with them. “Let it all go children. God does not want us to hold grudges forever. Let the pains go. Forgiveness is not something you give to people just to make them feel better. It helps you to start anew too; to stop reliving the past. Let the pains go my children. It is for your own good,” Sylvie implored them. Slowly, each child forgave Shingiro. He left that night with lighter weights on his heart and shoulders. The children cried all night, largely out of relief. “I wish I could see my parents again mom,” Ruth said before she retired to bed that night. “I wish you could too, my dear,” Sylvie answered lovingly. “But, I am glad I have you too. Thank you for replacing my parents so lovingly.” “No, thank you Ruth. Thank you for filling the gap in our hearts. You are an adorable daughter. We are blessed to have you, Boniface, Frederick and Shyaka after losing our children,” Ngayabaseka said, hugging Ruth firmly. “I love you daddy,” she said in tears. “And we love you so much Ruth,” Sylvie and Ngayabaseka replied, hugging her tightly.
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KEY WORDS: HUTU, TUTSI, BLOOD, KENYA, MEDICINE, UNITED NATIONS
KEY WORDS: HUTU, TUTSI, BLOOD, KENYA, MEDICINE, UNITED NATIONS