PART five: diin
Chapter 45: The Courtroom
DIIN wiped the tears from her eyes and clutched her SKIMMA as she gazed out of the vehicle’s window. She tried her best, but she couldn’t stop nodding off every now and then. She tried to make sense of what had happened. She had been woken up and put on the bus an hour ago, and she didn’t know why. She was told something about having to answer certain papers, and having to go to court to do so. She didn’t want to leave CREFY behind, but she had been too weak to fight back.
She looked around at the other children who had been put on the bus with her. Most of them seemed to be as clueless, and as sleepy, as her. She looked at their grim faces, hoping to see at least one that indicated that things would be alright. But none did. She looked out the window again and dozed off before she realized.
She was woken up by one of the meaner OSZA. The bus had stopped and the other children had started getting off. She followed them and found herself being led into a building with a lot of steps. A kind looking OSZA approached her when she entered.
“Hi there! Your name is… DIIN?” he asked.
“Good. I’m a friend of DIALA’s,” he said, after she had nodded.
“You remember DIALA? She had visited you once. She remembers you. And she remembers your SKIMMA, and your friend CREFY,” the kind OSZA smiled and said.
“Are you hungry? Thirsty maybe?” he asked, a few seconds later. “You know what. Let’s get you something anyway. We have some time before it’s our turn to go in. My name is LACH by the way.”
“Are you going to take me to my mommy and daddy?” DIIN asked, after taking a few sips of the drink LACH handed her.
“Yes. I am working very hard to get you to them. But there is something you have to do for me first,” he said.
“Ok,” DIIN replied.
“We’re going to go into that room over there in some time. There will be an OSZA there, one who will ask you some questions. I want you to answer them honestly. Don’t be scared of him. He only wants to help you, just like DIALA and I do.”
“It’s nothing to worry about, little one. Just talk to him, ok?” he said, as DIIN looked at him blankly.
“Ok,” DIIN mumbled, unsure of what else to say.
They sat in silence. DIIN finished her food and drink, while LACH pulled out a file from his briefcase and read it intensely. DIIN wondered if these were the things called papers that she had been told about after she had been taken out of her cage. DIIN didn’t even realize it, but had this been a different time, and a different set of circumstances, nothing would have stopped her from running around the building she found herself in. She would have explored every nook and cranny of the structure, at least the ones her parents let her. A place such as this would have brought her immense joy. In all her life, she had seen nothing like it. It would have been something she would have marveled at, something that would have aroused her curiosity, and made her ecstatic.
Even meeting somebody like LACH, with his strange accent and strange skin color, would have made her giddy with excitement. She would have wanted to know everything about him. Where he was from, what the strange language he spoke was, why the gray of his skin was so different from hers, why his clothes were unlike anything she had seen before, and a whole host of other questions. Thanks to the current predicament she found herself in, she couldn’t even find the will to look around her. All she could do was silently eat what she had been given, thankful for how much better it tasted than what she had gotten used to eating, while constantly looking at the ground.
“That’s us. Let’s go. Come on,” LACH said, when an OSZA with a booming voice shouted something from outside the door of a room.
“Sit here. Let me help you. Here you go,” LACH said, as he put her into a chair.
“Don’t say anything until I tell you to, ok?” LACH said. DIIN nodded.
DIIN had noticed an OSZA sitting at the end of the room as they had walked in. He seemed to tower over the entire room, looking down on everybody else. DIIN tried to get a good look at him, but the table in front of her covered most of her view. She wanted to climb onto the chair so that she could see what was happening, but she was too scared to do so.
The towering OSZA exchanged a great deal of words with LACH in their strange language, after which LACH helped her stand up in her chair.
“Hello there. What is your name?” the towering OSZA asked her, switching to the language she spoke, after she was able to see him clearly.
DIIN tried to answer, but she found her throat frozen.
“Don’t be scared, little one. Don’t be scared. Be brave. Answer the judge,” LACH said softly. The kindness in his eyes gave her courage.
“My… my… my name… DIIN,” she blurted out, with great difficulty.
“Very good. What’s your full name?” the OSZA called judge asked her.
“I… I… DIIN?” she answered.
“I see. Very well, DIIN. How old are you?” the judge asked.
DIIN had no idea, but she raised the number of fingers she thought was appropriate.
“Ok. That seems close enough,” the judge smiled and said. “Who did you come here with?”
“Don’t be scared, child. Take your time. It’s alright,” he said, a few minutes later.
“My mommy and daddy,” DIIN said.
“Very good. Very good. That’s a brave little child,” the judge said, smiling as he clapped. The judge’s reaction didn’t reduce DIIN’s fear, but it managed to unfreeze her throat.
“Ok. So… Mommy and Daddy… What are their names?” the judge asked.
“Mommy and Daddy,” DIIN said.
“Yes. Yes, child. But what are their names? You are named DIIN. The OSZA standing next to you is named LACH. So, just like that, what are your mommy and daddy named?” the judge asked.
“I… I don’t know… Mommy and Daddy?” DIIN answered, fighting back the tears.
“I see. It’s ok, child. It’s ok. Well… let me explain why you are here today. Ok?” the judge said.
The judge began explaining something to her. He spoke for a few minutes, and DIIN could tell that he was doing his best to make her understand what he was saying, but none of it made any sense to her. The only thing she could grasp was the word asylum, which she had heard her parents repeat often during their journey. The judge asked her if she understood everything he had said when he was finished. DIIN nodded, despite desperately wanting to tell the judge that she was confused, and just wanted to go home and be with her parents again. Despite his friendly manner, there was something very intimidating about him, and the room she found herself in. It scared her. Disappointing the judge, and LACH, scared her even more. They were being kind to her, unlike most of the OSZA that patrolled the cage she was kept in every day. She didn’t want to do anything that made them mad at her. She was afraid that they too would turn into the mean OSZA she hid from every day.
“Good. So, let us begin then. You came here with your parents. Your mommy and daddy. Do you know why?” the judge asked her.
“Because my mommy and daddy said so,” DIIN said.
“Did they ever say why? Did they say something like they were coming here for asylum?”
“Yes. Asylum,” DIIN answered.
“Good. Good. What kind of asylum? What were you running away from?” the judge asked.
“I… I…” DIIN began, stopping when she realized she couldn’t think of an answer.
“Hmm… Tell me… what was it like in your home?” the judge asked. “What did you do all day?”
DIIN tried her best, but she had no answer. She tried to tell the judge everything she could remember, but everything was hazy, and the memories came to her sporadically, and only in pieces. She blurted out words, but stopped when she realized that what she was saying made no sense to the judge. Much of it made no sense to her. It all seemed so far away, as if it was all part of a dream of some kind. She was beginning to wonder if any of it was even real.
The judge watched her silently. He nodded at her a few minutes later, and began reading what lay in front of him.
“Please… I just want… I just… I just want to be with my mommy and daddy… Please… Please…” she said, as she burst out crying. She had done everything she could to hold back the tears, but there was nothing she could do anymore.
LACH helped her sit down again. DIIN continued to sob as LACH did his best to console her. The silence in the courtroom made her sobs seem even louder, and that terrified her even more. She wanted to stop crying, but she just couldn’t keep the terror at bay any longer. She had broken down, and she couldn’t find a way to fix herself. All she could do was continue to cry, pleading with whoever was still listening, begging them to let her see her mommy and daddy. That was all she wanted. To see them. To go home again.
She heard LACH and the judge exchanging words in their language again. They spoke for a while, and LACH seemed to be arguing with the judge towards the end of it all. Before DIIN knew it, she was put in another room, after which she was put back on the bus. She continued to sob through it all. All she could remember was LACH telling her to stay strong as they left the judge, and him telling her that DIALA and he were doing their best to locate her parents. She wasn’t sure, but she felt like the judge had asked her the name of her SKIMMA as she had been lifted off her chair. She couldn’t remember whether she had answered him, and that only made her sob more.
DIIN continued to cry for the rest of the day. CREFY did what he could to console her once she was back in her cage, but nothing he did had much of an effect. In the end, he gave up, and they held their SKIMMA together, as tears rolled down their cheeks, and their eyes shared a pain that no living being deserves to experience.