Please do not ask me to be silent. Allow me to breathe.
There are some who begrudge me this blog and want me to fall completely silent, just because I disagree with their opinion.
Indeed I am neither a writer, nor a journalist, nor even a blogger, nor am I proficient in the rules of writing. But I am a person who was forcibly thrown in the midst of a conflict he did not choose, and when he grew up and had an opinion about it, he was told to shut up. And when he could not shut up, he was sentenced to exile.
So let us go back to the beginning of the story, may whoever gets angry find a reason and may whoever gets pleased find a reason. Though I do not write to anger or please anyone, only to feel that I exist.
So here is the story, Gentlemen:
Among the things I remember from my late mother, is that I was born two years after the year of “Saniyat” (1969) under the shade of a tent in an area close to a known mountain in the Meharrize region, south of the city of Smara, and that we moved to the city when all the countryside and villages turned into a battlefield.
However, I remember that I used to live in “Arbib” to the west of the city of Smara, and that I used to go to the "Escuela", the only school that Spain left in the city, and that my brother and I would wake up on the call to the dawn’s prayer to reach the school that was several kilometers away.
Perhaps my dreams at the time were like the dreams of any ordinary child living in a stable family situation: a home, parents, siblings, school and acceptable living conditions.
Then instantly, this pink picture disappears, as if it was a dream, so no more family, no home, no school, no friends, nothing.
The Polisario front attacked the city. A bomb fell on our house demolishing it into a pile, and burying my two martyrs sisters under its rubble. My father was injured in the head and taken to the hospital. The Front’s forces entered the neighborhood and took those still alive, as if we were slaves or war trophies. They took us to the camps on a journey that lasts for nights and days. Drums were played, poems and songs were sung as a celebration of us - the liberated. Yet, we did not have room for joy, our pain was great.
When the celebrations ended, we were given a tent, a small oven and whatever utensils available, then we were thrown into an endless sea of tents. We have now to start our lives over, to forget our home, our friends, and our school. We have to get used to the tent and make new friends, go to a new school and meet new teachers. The most difficult part was to get used to living without a father and wait for someone to offer us a piece of candy as we had no breadwinner. Also, for our young mother to spend the rest of her life without a husband or companion, for the only sin she’s committed was loving her husband.
My siblings and I were lucky, not because we survived the massacre, but because we were young, so our pain was less, and our adaptation was easier. But my mother was not. She was in her thirties, she fought and struggled to have a husband, children, a house and a stable life.. Then she went back to zero. She started knitting rugs for her children to find bedding, sewing sheets and weaving pillows, she had to make everything with her own hands and provide for five children, in need of food and clothing,with no no money and no help except from God. She had to spend nights counting stars and begging God to gather her with the father of her children. And God knows how many tears she had shed so difficult was what she went through.
The story continues ...
Just, please do not ask me to be silent, allow me to breathe.
Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud is a former police chief of the Polisario Front, and political dissident.