Sunday, 13 April 2008
Awesome. I of course mean that in the sense of how utterly absorbing the events of this week were. There were many other ways in which they could have settled their disagreement. If their aim was to kill most of the nomads, they failed. If it was to protect their hard work from 'invading beasts' then they have probably failed at that too - time will tell but they left survivors and there are more who weren't engaged in this battle to seek revenge.
And after three generations this week I was finally spoken too again. The attack took place in the early hours last Monday and it was only today that one of the settlers spoke with me.
"There were so many bodies, the ground is still stained with their blood, the animals are scared and the crops were damaged." And then he spoke to me "WHAT HAVE WE DONE?"
I answered, "What is that you were trying to achieve?" The man began to cry and said "Protection, we wanted to tell these people that they couldn't just take what they wanted. But they didn't come here to fight. They were singing a song, a song to you in the early sunlight of the dawn as the sun rose behind them as if this was their army. But this was no army, they were men and boys, not expecting to fight and when they saw us..." He trailed off.
"What happened?" I asked, "when they saw you, a large crowd of elders, were they scared?" I knew the answer of course but to hear it from this man was important, for all of us. The man regained his composure "When they saw us" he said "they opened their arms, sang louder and smiled. I think they thought that we had come to talk to them. We walked on, some of our group laughed quietly, said that they were more docile than their sheep and that they would be slaughtered just as unexpectantly as lambs. It was stupid talk, dehumanising these people as they were singing YOUR name!"
"And what did you do?" I asked him.
"When we got closer we raised our weapns and charged at them - screaming. It was over very quickly. We left some of the younger ones." The man said to me.
"And what did you do?" I repeated.
"I have just told you what I did" he said.
"You have told me what the group did." I said one last time "What did you do?"
The man sat in silence for some time before telling me. "When the shouting began I realised that it was my voice that I could hear loudest, I ran and I grabbed a man and beat him about the head with my staff. When he fell I could see the fear in his eyes, but then there was something else. It was as though he was accepting this fate. I was terrified of his passive acceptance and so I smashed his expression until their was nothing but flesh and bone, I only stopped when I realised that there was nothing left to continue smashing."
He drew a breath and continued. "The boys offered no resistance at all. They sat in a group screaming, the youngest could have been no younger than ten years old. Many of them had wet themselves and they huddled closely together, the few that had run off were quickly captured and killed. I walked over to the group of young boys, there were six of them. As I twisted the first one's head around until it snapped and went limp the other five were instantly silent and stared at their young friend as I dropped his body to the ground but that silence screamed at me and grew louder and louder with each neck that I broke until there were only two left. Then they began to sing your name, again.
"I shouted at the remaining boys, I warned them what would happen if they ever returned. I think I was actually warning them not of our violence but of our shame, it was we that were the beasts, not them."
I asked him "And what have you achieved today?"
"Less than nothing" the man said "We killed so many people, if they never return we have secured our land but only at the cost of their lives and at the cost of losing these people in our lives. But the biggest loss must be in what we have lost of our selves and I don't even think I can calculate what that loss is. We can never move away from this, we will forever be marked by this deed and I fear what will become of us. I detest us for what we have done, there are some others of us that agree with my disgust but some do not. Already we are divided amongst ourselves by this one act and it was achieved by our own hand."
"And what do you want from me?" I asked.
"Forgiveness" he said "what I have done, it was like an evil spirit took over me."
I replied "If an evil spirit took over you why do you apologise for it? If you want forgiveness then you must seek it from yourself, you created this event, you created the outcome and so only you can create forgiveness for yourself. But I can help you, if you choose."
The man stood up and replied "Yes. Please help me. There was no spirit, I know that it was me but I am scared that I have this within me, but it was me, wasn't it?"
"Don't be afraid, I will tell you more but remember that I created you, so do not disown any part of yourself. What I will do is help you to understand that part of yourself." I said.
I left him. The parts of me that were the men he killed and the boys that he murdered had heard from him. We were pleased that he had spoken to us and had answered the questions which had been tormenting us for days."