PART five: diin
Chapter 46: The Union
DIIN stroked her SKIMMA as she stared at the fencing that made up her cage. She had been alternating between looking at it and at the ground for a while. She briefly looked up once in a while, giving her surroundings a blank stare. She felt nothing anymore, and she had begun to get used to it. The mean OSZA shouting at her no longer terrified her. The thought of never getting out of the cage she lived in day after day no longer got to her. Her memories of home, of her parents, of everything that was before this place, had become a distant flicker. She couldn’t remember her mother’s face anymore. She couldn’t remember her touch. She couldn’t even remember her father’s smile. Even CREFY was on his way to becoming a distant memory.
He had been there with her, giving her hope, keeping her connected to her past, until one day, he simply wasn’t there anymore. At first, DIIN thought that he had been taken to the strange building to see the towering judge. But the realization that he was gone for good began to set in when he hadn’t returned for more than six meals. He was the one who had taught her that two meals meant that an entire day had gone by. He had learnt it from some of the older kids in their cage, and had promptly passed on the knowledge to her.
Some of the older kids had tried cheering her up initially. CREFY’s departure had led to DIIN crying for days. The kids in her cage tried consoling her. They tried giving her hope. They tried telling her that CREFY had, perhaps, finally been reunited with his parents, and that they would now come back for her. They tried making her believe that what had happened had been for the best. But none of it had mattered to DIIN. The kids had given up, and DIIN had continued to cry for a long time after that. She had cried and cried, until, one day, she woke up numb. There were no more tears left. The sadness was still within her, but the will to fight it had left. She had become a husk of her former self, and had only grown more detached from her surroundings with each passing day.
DIIN barely noticed her transfer to another facility. She was so far gone that she barely noticed the decline in the food quality, or how much colder the new facility would often get. Such things had no effect on her anymore. A number of kids tried to talk to her, and some even tried to entice her into playing with them, but all she could do was blankly stare at them. Some of the kinder OSZA at the new facility tried cheering her up, asking about her SKIMMA, but they too got no response from her.
DIIN registered the words that were uttered to her before she was taken out of the facility many weeks later, but she had no reaction to them. She had been told that her parents had been found, and that she was on the way to meet them, but this too, had no effect on her. Something within her had lit up when the words were first uttered, but something else inside of her had immediately extinguished it.
DIIN held on to her SKIMMA loosely as she got on the bus. She blankly stared out of the window throughout the journey, looking at the scenery the bus moved through, but registering none of it. Just like in the courtroom, she was seeing sights that she had never seen before, sights that would have given her an immense amount of joy in the past, and yet, she felt nothing as she looked at them now. She got out of the bus when she was told to, and followed whatever instructions were barked at her when she got off, responding to them all without any emotions.
She was led to a room where two faces that seemed familiar ran towards her.
“DIIN! DIIN! You are still alive! Thank God! Thank God!” the female face said, as it hugged her.
“Oh thank God! Thank God! We were so worried. We didn’t know what had happened to you,” the male face said.
“DIIN. Where is CREFY, child? And where is GOBA? Why aren’t they here with you?” the female face asked her, as it continued hugging her.
The other face looked up at the uniformed OSZA that had led her to the room.
“Where is my son? And my daughter? You said you had located my children,” the male face asked.
“We did. Here is your daughter,” the uniformed OSZA said.
“This is not my daughter,” the male face answered angrily.
“You seem to know this child,” the uniformed OSZA said. “As per our records, she was logged in as traveling with you.”
“Yes! She was. But she is the daughter of the other family that traveled with us. The ones you refuse to let us see. I told the other OSZA who we have been talking to. I have a son, named CREFY, and a daughter, an infant, named GOBA. We have been coming here day after day to be reunited with them. Where are they?” the male face asked.
“You will have to take it up with whoever you have been talking to. This is the child I was told to bring to you. You can keep her if you want. We can register you as her guardian, as long as the child is willing to confirm that she recognizes you,” the uniformed OSZA said.
“WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN?” the male face screamed.
The uniformed OSZA reached for this weapon. The female face that been holding DIIN let her go and joined her hands together.
“Please, Sir! We are sorry. He didn’t mean anything by it. He will apologize. Please, Sir! We do not want any trouble,” the female face said. “Apologize!” she said to the male face.
“I’m sorry,” the male face muttered. “Please, bring us the paperwork. We will take this child.”
The uniformed OSZA looked at DIIN. “Do you know these OSZA?” he asked.
DIIN stared at him blankly as he repeated the question a few times, while the male and female faces begged her to give him an answer. DIIN had no idea where it came from, or how she made it happen, but she finally managed to give the uniformed OSZA a nod.
The uniformed OSZA led the male face out of the room. DIIN stayed with the female face, absentmindedly eating whatever she was handed. The female face tried talking to her, but, just like everybody else, gave up eventually, and just held DIIN close to her instead. The male face eventually returned, and the trio left the facility they were in. A few hours later, DIIN realized, somewhere deep inside of her, that they had just made their way through the tent city they had stayed in a lifetime ago.
They stopped walking after a while. The male face knelt in front of her, as the female face put DIIN in her lap.
“I am so sorry, DIIN. There is no amount of apologizing that can fix what has happened to you, child. But, I promise you… I promise you, child…” the male face said, as he burst into tears. “I promise you… that we will not stop searching for them. We will not rest until we have found them. We will do whatever it takes to find your parents, to find…” he continued, as he did his best to fight back the tears, “CREFY… to find GOBA… We will…” The male face lost all control at that point. He buried his head in his hands, and did what he could to suppress his screams. The female face continued to hold DIIN, letting him work through his emotions. DIIN continued to stare at him blankly. She was listening to everything he said, and she knew who they were; a part of her wanted to burst with joy for being reunited with at least them if not her parents, but she was terrified to acknowledge any of it. Acknowledging it, acknowledging them, acknowledging this moment meant acknowledging the fact that she could be separated from them at any second, and she simply wasn’t prepared to do that.
“I am sorry, child. This is all my fault,” the male face continued, after he had managed to control his sobbing. “I thought that these OSZA would help us, that they would try and understand our plight. I believed that they were better than the OSZA who ruined our country. I believed that these OSZA were kind, and that they would help those like us, those in need, those running away from lives which had no future, those running away from persecution. I believed that they had sympathy for OSZA like us, that they would give us an opportunity to work hard to improve the bad hand we have been dealt for no fault of our own. But they turned out to be monsters, child. Monsters who are as bad, if not worse, than those we ran away from.”
The male face continued, as tears freely streamed down his cheeks. “Who does this to others? Who separates parents from their children in this manner? I thought this was utopia, but it turned out to be hell instead. These are the worst kind of monsters. At least the monsters in our lands do not hide what they are. These OSZA, they pretend to be saints, they pretend to believe in equality for all, they pretend to want to give everybody a fair chance… they hide their true nature behind a mask of empathy and virtue. But they aren’t virtuous. They have no empathy for those like us. All they have is cruelty, one that knows no bounds. One that does not care who it harms, even if it is harming the souls of innocent children. I have learnt a lot about them in the last few weeks. There are numerous others like us, separated because of what these monsters have the audacity to call laws, children separated from their parents, parents desperately seeking out their children. What kind of a law does this? How can they claim that these atrocities are legal? I’ve seen what kind of a utopia this place is, and I want none of it. These OSZA have no mercy. They have no shame. This place is no better than where we are from. I truly am sorry, DIIN. Nothing can make up for what you have been put through. But I will spend the rest of my life trying to make this right. I hope that, someday, you can find it within yourself to forgive me, child.”
DIIN continued to stare at the male face blankly. She observed the tears that ran down his cheeks, and she looked up to find similar streams of tears falling off the female face as well. She said nothing. She did nothing. She simply sat there, completely still, completely blank, refusing to allow herself to feel anything at all, despite the sudden realization that she had left her SKIMMA in the room where her union with the two faces, the same ones that currently hugged her, had taken place.