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Eritreans’ “Picnic” To Death

“They will come back. They are going for a picnic. They will come back one day.” – Isaias Afwerki, interview with Reuters, October 21, 2009

As I try to write this article, my heart feels heavy; my hands numb, my blood curdle and my brain oscillate faster than a Hadron collider. I do not know whether I am sad or angry. I sometimes even think I am dead, a living dead.

One question comes back to me again and again as to why I even bother to write. What is the use? What value am I adding to those who are suffering? To those who are perishing? Simply put, I start to feel that I am writing for indulgence.

When part of you dies, you die. It is a simple fact.  Fact of Life. Fact of communal life. Who does not feel the agony of those who perished in the high seas? Their last second in this earth.

I felt sinking like them. I felt drowning like them. I shrieked in terror and cried like them. I felt the last gasp of my breath like them. I glimpsed for the last time with sheer trepidation and sinking hope my children, my wife, the pregnant woman who was uncomfortably sitting in the middle, the priest who was reading The Good Book and all the others who were traveling with me and sank with me. For them it was real; for me hallucination.

Feeling does not bring comfort. In actuality it is a mirage. It is hedonism. And that is why during tragic times I feel like a frog in boiling water. You cannot emulate the agony of those who perished. Their agony stays with them. It stays in the sea, sometimes floating; sometimes in sea floor. No amount of empathy can duplicate that.

Was I wrong or delusional to think they were going to picnic? Did not the tyrant said verbatim to the journalist who asked him of those who are fleeing from their beloved people and country: “They are going for a picnic. They will come back one day”?

Remember this answer like the French remember Marie Antoinette’s’ “Let them eat cake”. Do not forget what the Tyrant said “they are going to picnic”. Keep this lodged in your memory and treasure it and talk about it. Use it as proverb; utilize it as adjective, phrase or Idiom. Pass it to generations to come. Teach it to your children. It is a phrase never to be forgotten!

The Question is: are those who sank in the depth of the sea going to come back to Life? Yes and No. Yes, their soul shall go to Heaven for Eternal Life. But the tyrant was talking about their physical body. The body that sank in the sea. The body that he believes he owns.

How ironic life is?  To run away from Death to face Death. How tragic it is?  You run away from Death to seek Life! Not vice versa.

I always believed that picnic to be the safest rendezvous for families and children. What happened to the picnic that most people and I on earth know and are familiar with?

As we know and experienced there is no 50/50 chance in a picnic. It is safe. Period.

So, is it absolutely safe to trek on foot to the neighboring countries when the possibility is high that you can be summarily shot to death while crossing?

So, is it absolutely safe to cross the Sahara where one can easily die of dehydration and sun stroke?

So, is it absolutely safe to stay in places like Libya where one would probably be detained, tortured and die?

So, is it absolutely safe to be sandwiched in a boat and cross safely to Europe when overcapacity and shoddy work can easily and surely tip the boat to your demise?

Where is the picnic? May be it has a different meaning to the one who uttered the phrase. May be there is a picnic to Death. May be the tyrant was talking about picnic in hell in whose bosom he lives. We the normal humans do not understand his world. It is a parallel world- alien and scary -to normal human beings but not to the tyrant; his enforcers and those who are infected with the contagion.

And finally, how do you deal with such a tyrant? How do you deal with such brazenness? How do you deal with his system?

I am changed forever. What was archived by force can only be rectified by force. There is no If or But. The idea to renovate the house built by crooks is futile, unsound and unsafe. Only demolition will work. If the French succeeded to defeat Antoinette so can we.

My heart goes to those who perished and those who lost loved ones.


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