The reporter is waiting for an answer. The woman’s thin arms clutch at the bright flowery scarves wrapped around her gaunt body. She wants to say something yet the words won’t come.
Life has traced her face with deep lines, hollowed the cheeks, emptied the eyes. She fled the atrocity of war holding her country in a suffocating grip, left behind cities shaken by violence, villages ravaged by terror. She fought for life and against unbearable hunger, thirst and pain. The old looking woman is only fifteen.
I play with the last piece of raspberry tart on my plate. A crumb jumps off the plate. I immediately bounce at it to prevent it from spoiling the carpet. It appears a minuscule piece of cake is causing more disturbance in my life than that girl’s horrifying story.
Is it because of the distance? The thousands of kilometres separating me from the sand, the heat and the overcrowded refugee camps? Is it because it’s a girl from Nigeria, a land I can only depict as hot when asked about it and until recently probably would have had troubles finding on a map? Or is it because I got so used to bad news made in Africa that I simply stopped caring at some point?
What if the land was Germany, England, France? The girl a neighbour, a friend? Or even a perfect stranger but one I could relate to, somebody from my world?