Peace is priceless

It had always been a charming town, a melting pot of diverse life bases stemming from various multi-religious, socio-economic, and educational backgrounds. The town thrived on a rich tapestry of multiculturalism, where people with distinct identities coexisted harmoniously. The weather was a constant companion, friendly and skin-chilling, complemented by the breathtaking landscape that adorned the town. Mornings were heralded by the cheerful crowing of hens, while nights sparkled with the celestial beauty of stars in the sky. However, the tranquility abruptly shattered one somber Wednesday morning. The town awoke to a cacophony of gunshots and bomb blasts, the air filled with the terrified cries of women and children desperately seeking safety. Initially, it felt like a surreal scene from a Netflix movie or a lingering dream. The reality, however, was starkly different as insurgents had mercilessly stormed the once-idyllic town. As a university student who had migrated from the state capital in pursuit of education, my concerns shifted abruptly from academic pursuits to a fight for survival. Amidst the chaos, I frantically sought safety, no longer preoccupied with the pursuit of a degree or the allure of the beautiful city. The pressing question loomed – would I make it out alive? The perilous journey revealed the harsh truth as lifeless bodies of fellow townspeople lay strewn along the path, victims of the insurgents' brutality. The urgency of my escape overshadowed the realization that I had missed a scheduled test that morning. my phone rang, jolting me into awareness. Should I prioritize personal safety or risk everything to save a loved one? The situation bore an uncanny resemblance to a modern-day Romeo and Juliet scenario, blurring the lines between fiction and the visceral experience of love and survival. Compelled by an inexplicable courage, I retraced my steps to rescue my girlfriend from the chaos. Upon reaching the university gate, however, I encountered an unexpected obstacle – it was firmly locked. Moments later, insurgents, resembling thugs in a dilapidated van, arrived, sending a wave of fear through the frozen crowd. Unleashing gunfire, they revealed their indifference to our plight, leaving us to confront the uncertain fate they held in their hands. Fortunately, their attention shifted elsewhere, sparing us from the immediate threat. As the insurgents departed, the previously frozen crowd dispersed in various directions, each person driven by the singular goal of survival. In the aftermath, I stumbled upon a young lady lying helplessly on the ground. Ignoring my lingering fears, I carried her to the university clinic, breaking in to access medical supplies and administer first aid. Despite the chaos, her survival became a testament to the resilience that could be found amid tragedy. The scenes mirrored those from harrowing movies and documentaries about conflicts in distant lands like Rwanda, Syria, or Libya. Yet, now, these experiences were our own, and we found ourselves grappling with the harsh reality of displacement, uncertainty, and the struggle for survival. The arduous journey through the bush spanned two nights, each step a testament to resilience and determination. Passing through villages, Encountering fellow survivors along the way, we exchanged stories that painted a grim picture of the atrocities committed by the insurgents. The heartbreaking journey prompted reflection on the state of humanity, questioning how we had devolved into a society where people were forced to flee their homes due to their religious beliefs and pursuit of education. We reached a temporary sanctuary, not quite home, but a place offering a chance to board a vehicle to a safer haven. The opportunistic motorists, indifferent to our plight, exploited the situation, inflating prices for transportation. The echoes of African slavery resonated as the gravity of betrayal and complicity within our own community became apparent. Finally, back in the embrace of my family, their joy at my survival was evident. However, the trauma I carried from the journey remained hidden behind the façade of relief. The question lingered – how many others had survived, and could the town ever reclaim its former beauty? The foundations of love, trust, and coexistence as a community seemed irreparably shattered. The cruelty of mankind had pierced the fabric of society, and those who had sold their conscience for temporary gains were now ensnared in the web of their own betrayal. The young generation, witnessing this betrayal, faced the daunting task of breaking free from the bondage inflicted upon them.As I sat in the cocoon of my family's living room, the weight of the journey settled upon me. The once-charming town had become a battlefield, and the scars of survival ran deep. The journey had forced me to confront the darkest facets of humanity, raising questions about the essence of our shared existence.

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Jane Doe

Aspiring writer, budding linguist.

Cape Town, South Africa