From a Somali Woman to Her Executioners

I was scared. Sometimes, I thought you would let me go, would forget about me. It had been months since you judged me and my belly got bigger and bigger. The bigger it got the closer I came to my due date, the date of my execution. I ate almost nothing and drank little, hoping that my belly will stop growing and you will forget about me. Some hopeful mornings I was certain that I will die in childbirth, the way my mother did. She gave birth to me and rushed away, leaving me all alone with you. I was a nobody. You would forget about me. You had guns to buy and wars to fight. What do you want with a woman like me?

I was scared when I heard his scream. I never heard him scream before. I only knew his whispers. When he told me how much he wanted me, how beautiful my eyes were, how he had to go now. I loved his nightly visits because after love-making he always covered me and because he wasn't one of you. His brother was, which is why you spared his life. I'm happy you did. You wanted me to watch. Your slaps forced me to open my eyes. From a distance, I kissed his blood-streaked back the way I kissed it when you didn't look. And for a moment, I forget about you.

I was scared when I felt the first pains. I closed my eyes and waited for mercy. The women's voices urged me to push. I pulled it in. I knew that if it stays in me long enough you will forget about me. I held to it the way a drowning man hold on to a dead body floating by. If it stays in me it will only hear the stories I tell. But it betrayed me again. I felt it slipping from between my legs, silent. Death came and missed me. My scream reminds you that I am ready for you.

I am scared when you force me to watch as you dig my standing grave. My water breaks again. How many deaths am I to give birth to? Other people are watching too. It's almost festive. It reminds me of Eid days, when as children you and I used to gather around storytellers in the marketplace. Today, I'm the heroine of your story. I am tall, so you have to dig deeper, which makes you hate me more. I stand. You arrange it so that I can only move my head. The first stone misses. I smile. The second misses too. My smile widens. But soon your aim gets better and I no longer can tell if I'm smiling or not. I don't have my hands to shield me face. You denied me that small mercy. Do I feel pain? I don't remember. All I remember is the glistening skin, my parted lips, and the scream of pleasure that brought you to me. Then my lover covers me. And I go to sleep.

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