Without You, Sister

by Jean Paul Sekarema
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My sister’s surname was Nyirandegeya, which means that she had two additional fingers. She was the second-born; I am the third-born. We loved each other, but I loved her much as possible because I believed she possessed my fingers. I had only eight and she had twelve.

When I was five years old we were separated because my parent had in their thinking that a disabled child like me I would not live, and if I lived, would live in a bad manner.

Because of that, my parents started to search for me an orphelinat to take care of me. I moved from home to the orphelinat. The first day in the orphelinat was a day to cry because I was thinking about my parents, my sister, and my brothers at home, but in the coming days I began a new life.

Sometimes I forgot my family members, but I didn’t forget my sister. When I was explaining to my colleagues in the orphelinat the cause of my disability, I told them that “it is because my sister took more fingers than me because she born before.”

I left my country in 1994 because the Genocide started and I went to Italy. I continued life as usual. I came back in my country in 1998, and at the airport there were some staff for dispatching us to our families. On my first time back home I went with those staff but I entered first the house of my parents with a big curiosity to see my family.

I opened the door, continued into the chambers and in the last chamber there was my mum, but I had forgotten her. She came to greet me with a happy face but I returned quickly to the car because I didn’t know her.

Those staff took me in arm back inside and began to introduce to me my family members. I refused and answered that they confused my family because my mother was not black, she was white: it was because I lived with the white ones instead of my real mother. I remembered only my father and my sister and I asked her, “If you are my mother where is my sister and my father?”

My mother didn’t answer that question, instead she cried. The answer was given by one of the neighbours that my father was at the market and my sister was lost in the Genocide.

Oooh no!

I didn’t accept that but I told my mother that she is the one who killed my sister.

Of course my mum was not feeling well to understand my thought like that but she had no choice because she loves me, too. I done the bad to my mum because of the loss of my sister, But now I knew she was my beloved mum and she could not kill my sister.

In my thinking I am always confused whether my sister died or she is lost. If she is lost, why don’t can’t I see her again? She forgot the home place? Forgot the name of the parents and brother to communicate with them on the radio or newspaper and other social media? In the time of communication of CICR (Communaute International de Croix-Rouge) on the radio about people lost, I listen carefully when I am at home, but I don’t listen for her.

And if she died in Genocide, why can we not find her death? Why did the killers kill her? And even if they killed her, why not explain and ask pardon for the fault done?

The first question I will ask to the person who killed her, is, May I ask why you killed her?

I will not forget my sister and I always hope that one day we will meet. I don’t know exactly the place of the meeting, because I don’t know if she is alive or not but I hope that one day in the earth or in the heaven we will meet.

The ideas that I choose is to live with are that I will see her again. I take care of my brothers as I can in the recognition of my sister. I will do my best as well to improve my future, and I think that my sister, wherever she is, will be happy about that.

When I see my female friends I think of of my sister if she were alive, especially in ceremonies of darling, wedding, and so on.

The month of April, as Rwandan, I recognise Tutsi killed in Genocide but I add Nyirandegeya lost in Genocide.

I will not forget when I was a kid in Italy where an Italian kid asked me “Hey, what about your fingers? Where are gone?” I responded that my sister took many fingers because I born after her, that why she is called “Nyirandegeya” but was not her real name.

I will not forget you sister. Living without you is hard but one day God will arrange the meeting. All the best wherever you are: God protect you.

I love you!

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jean paul sekarema 
Jean Paul Sekarema was born in 1988 in Nyanza district, Southern Province, in Rwanda. Now he lives in Kigali city, Gasabo district. He likes to be called Seka instead of Sekarema, as that name is a way of discriminating against people with impairment. Sekarema means someone with impairment, but Seka means smile.

Sekarema Photogene is his father, Nikuze Marie Goretti his mother: he has 5 brothers and one sister lost during the Genocide in 1994. He studied secondary school in Groupe Scolaire Gatagara in Huye District, Southern Province, and holds a secondary school certificate in Human Sciences, received in 2008. He speaks Kinyarwanda, English, and French, as well as some Italian and German. He holds a bachelors degree (2013) in business administration (finance), from the former National University of Rwanda, now he is a volunteer in Paralympic Committee of Rwanda.

Jean Paul dreams of a society where people with and without impairment enjoy together regardless of impairment; he likes to travel with friends, dance, and pray. Favorite foods are ubugari, (cassava bread), spaghetti, and banana meal.