Yesterday, for the first time since the turmoil began, I realized that they hadn’t come. That in itself was of great concern because it made me wonder whether I was becoming desensitized to the horrific events that I keep witnessing. Was I beginning to lose my humanity? Perhaps it seems strange, but when the tears first begin to well up I feel a sense of overwhelming sadness, followed by an awareness of their warmth as they gather in my eyes. For some reason, that feeling of warmth helps to console me.
I have to stop. The soldiers on the main road are preparing to come into our quarter.
It’s now hours later. Another day of soldiers rampaging through the area, although so far they have not come onto our street. Of course, they could very well show up tonight. Many more local people were arrested and some were ordered at gunpoint to remove the barricades on the main road.
Like everyone else, I find myself exhausted throughout much of the day, making it difficult to get anything done. The adrenaline is probably running so freely that it completely wipes me out whenever it starts to drain away. Under the present conditions every task takes so much longer to accomplish. A good night’s sleep is, of course, hard to come by. Rest comes only sporadically.
As I wrote at the outset, I cannot come close to explaining adequately what we are all going through. As a child, I often wondered why my father never, ever, talked about his experiences during WWII. Now I know. I too might never be able to talk about any of this again.
What mostly keeps me going is the strength and unbelievable courage of both the students and our local security team members. Every day these young people face stun grenades, tear gas, bullets and death with little more than umbrellas, slingshots, a few sticks and wholly inadequate construction helmets. Every time they walk past my apartment on their way to a demonstration, I am in awe and so, so grateful, always wondering when and if they will return. And without our security volunteers we would never be able to sleep a wink. When this is over, if I do have any stories to tell, they will be about these brave and resolute people who want their stolen dreams back.
It’s 9 pm and the soldiers are coming again. Gotta go.
Now it’s midnight.
The soldiers returned to our quarter and others nearby throwing stun grenades and firing weapons. And they didn’t hesitate to shoot into apartments. It was really alarming. This is what they often do when they turn up to arrest people. So I spent a lot of my time sitting on the floor, not alone in thinking, “Are we on their list tonight?” It’s frightening to contemplate.
After lingering around on our street, the soldiers eventually went back to the main road and started shooting toward the tops of the electric poles, probably taking out the CCTV cameras. But I shall not be able to confirm that until daybreak. Then they went further down the road to their billet, where I think they installed new CCTV cameras, but I cannot confirm that either.
As I finish, the sun is not quite up but there is more traffic than usual. People are getting into cars and driving off. Our quarter, and I expect most others, has become like a stop on an Underground Railroad. Because of the uncertainty and violence, people are leaving their jobs and homes and trying to return to their ancestral villages. Groups originally from the same rural area pool their money and hire a car to take them away.