By Jokmagai ë Dengadiit
5. AT THE JAWS OF DEATH AT PARIAK AND MALINHETHOOR
Deng and Achol, the famous Dinka names commonly mentioned in Jieeng fables and folktales were rampant in my family. Grandpa Deng-dueel got married to Achol e Chan from Nyarweng, Uncle Deng-Maguar got married to Achol e Deng Akook from Ayuaal and my father got married to Achol e Makuach from Ajuong. After reaching Pangueet, a cattle camp of Ayuaal, my mom Achol Makuach and mom Achol Deng Akook (Uncle Deng-Maguar’s wife) returned towards Nyarweng to see our grandmothers-Akuoldit and Nyaweidit respectively. My mother was later captured by Nueer soldiers and tortured while still nursing my little sister who was already a two year old by that time.
Atongdit came with her maternal uncles, Paan e Bioor-gutchot. She bypassed us and went as far as Malek. Daddy and I plus the rest of our relatives went to Pariak. In the evening, daddy decided to go and look for one of his cows which he had brought from our village until that far. Daddy left me in the care of my cousin Jok Aleer Jok. The night was approaching and during his search, the enemy captured my dad, tortured him and imprisoned him.
That night, I remained with Jok Aleer e Jok. At one time, Jok bent down to untie the papyrus mat he was carrying. I disappeared at that instant into nowhere in that dark night. I can’t really recall where I went. My cousin Jok Aleer was deeply heartbroken and confused on what to tell daddy, should he arrive anytime sooner or later. I don’t know where I slept and no one knew because I was walking alone among the migrating crowd. What I can remember clearly is the dark dawn of the next day.
In the morning of the following day, I found myself walking along the overcrowded way at Malinhethoor near Pariak. There were several gunshots and I could see cows and people falling by my side. The war was on again. I was so confused, therefore I stood akimbo observing the crowd running helter skelter in all directions. I was lucky to spot my cousin Nyanluaak Nyibol Awuol Deng Akei among the running crowd. I tried my best to call Nyanluaak with my soprano boyish voice but she never heard me since she was running confused and wailing in fear at the same time. I grabbed Nyanluaak by her skirt and I could not let go of her until we reached a safe place in the forest near Malinhethoor. Nyanluaak later recognised me and tears of remorse filled her eyes. She wept bitterly and said sorry to me.
We later joined Nyanluaak’s brother, Magai and Uncle Deng-maguar’s family plus many other people from my village. Uncle Deng-maguar and Magai rested under a tree at a nearby distance with other male members of our family, the Dinka style. The women were with the kids under another tree. That is where I was with my cousin Nyanluaak Nyibol. Nyanluaak brought me some cooked githeri from where I cannot recall. I tried it but the maize was still hard and not fully cooked because people were in a hurry. I was also very tired so Nyanluaak rested me on her jorethee (could that be Jieeng word for Jersey?). I slept innocently and heavily. Hardly had I finished one hour sleeping, then Nueer army suddenly arrived and shot at us.
Everyone ran in a hurry and the devil designed a temptation that was meant to shake our blood ties or rather make them stronger. Nyanluaak forgot about me under the tree. She removed her jorethee and ran in fear leaving me behind where I was sleeping under the tree. The gunshots woke me up and I saw no one around. I was so confused that I just moved around that tree without really going anywhere. Was this going to be my end? Why would this temptation befall my beloved cousin Nyanluaak? If she were not my savior, why would she be the one I first recognized that morning after I had gotten lost and spent the night in a place I cannot recall? Blood was needed to correct this misfortune that was almost looming. I could not see people. I also forgot the time of the day since I just woke up. Funny enough, I never thought of where to go or what to do. I moved in circles like a lost goat under that tree.
TO BE CONTINUED