Note from the author:
This is a true story told by way of fiction in order to mask people’s identity and to cover for forgotten details. The language is also different.
Disclaimer: I know it should have said “burnt” instead of “burned,” just in case you wondered.
If you haven’t guessed it, yes, Khadia actually put Djene’s foot on the ignited charcoal; probably until the charcoal turned back to black.
I was beyond shocked, angry, sad, disgusted, and sick to my stomach. By then, I’m pretty sure people stepped in, but I wasn’t around anymore.
A few days later, I saw Khadia walking passed our house. I gave her a very angry stare, even though she had what I called ‘a fake smile’ on her face. I thought she pretended to be nice while knowing fully well that she was evil; inhuman. As I was sitting with my mother, she greeted us, but I don’t believe I replied. I didn’t feel the need to.
My curious mind couldn’t stop but wonder, “who is this woman, and who is Djene?”
I couldn’t understand why Djene lived with her even though Khadia treated her poorly. It was clear that she wasn’t Khadia’s daughter.
So, whose daughter was she? Where were her parents? Did they know that she lived under such harsh conditions? I was very curious to find out.
One breezy night, while all the children in the neighborhood were playing outside, I saw Djene with them for the first time. I had never seen her play with the other children. I happily joined the group and we had lots of fun racing, telling stories, and making jokes.
I couldn’t help but notice Djene limping a little bit. She hadn’t completely healed; it was probably days after her foot incident. And no, she was never sent to the hospital.
I heard some girls mentioning something about her foot or asking her about it. I took the opportunity to approach her and speak to her. We had previously exchanged greetings on numerous occasions, so it wasn’t our first time speaking, although, it was our first time having a full conversation.
She was very sweet, as I had expected, judging from her quiet demeanor.
“How’s your foot?” I kindly asked as I looked at her with admiration for her strength.
“Alhamdulillah; I’m doing better” was her response.
It was clear that she was still in pain, but her strength superseded all the pain she could have felt. She had a smile on her face, didn’t seem to pity herself, and wanted to play like everyone else. But, we couldn’t be fooled as ‘suffering’ was written all over her face. Through the smiles and politeness, you could still notice something different about her. As I mentioned before, she looked stiff, as if she had no emotions. It was pretty obvious that she was mistreated.
Sadly, I didn’t get to ask her much about her background. So, I remained ignorant and curious. Something deep inside my mind and soul wanted to free her from Khadia. I just didn’t know how.
So I wondered, “Was anyone else noticing? Was there any grown-up out there who cared and tried to find her parents?”
As it turned out, yes, someone did care!
Not only one person, but probably a team of concerned people.
So, was Djene’s horrible nightmare coming to an end?
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