Chapter 4 : South Korea, the Sewol Ferry Tragedy.
The wanderer landed on the boat’s deck with a loud thud. It was already his fourth trip through time and he still didn’t get used to the transition from one historical era to another. And as the portal closed rapidly, he glanced down at his clothes; a pair of jeans and a black coat. It must be the modern world. It’s been a long time, he thought. Loud chatter filled his ears and the smell of the sea filled his lungs. In a swift movement, his hand hid his travel necklace under the thick layers of clothes.
Everyone around him was speaking in a language he couldn’t understand. A quick, deep glimpse at the passengers around him was enough to conclude that he was in South Korea. And driven by curiosity, his gaze shifted to the outer surface of the ship. Slowly but surely he read the flipped letters carved there: Sewol MV.
This name kept ringing repeatedly inside his mind as he lifted his head up. His arms wrapped the coat tightly around him, in an attempt to fight off the cold sea breeze. There was a gentle aura of youth floating around the place, He looked over at the high schoolers chatting and smiling, having the best time of their lives. He closed his eyes and just focused on the mixture of sounds and scents in an attempt to remember the loud silence before the storm. And as the night creeped in, everything made him more alert. Because as a time wanderer, there was always a purpose in every single trip. A static, quiet voyage was out of the equation.
The morning after, he woke up, put on his black coat and headed to the cafeteria. He sat alone with his food. Out of nowhere, the table was flipped upside down by an invisible force. And just like a domino effect, the passengers watched their plates and their desks fall down. And the wanderer could feel every little movement of the ship.
Loud screams pierced through his ears. He ran as fast as he could towards the deck. His hand grabbed the metallic rail tightly until it turned white, and then looked around him. Some were already thrown into the deep ocean. The rest were trying to hang in to the front deck.
He felt his mind knot as he tried to think of something to do. Anything. Then, his eyes shot open, a surge of adrenaline rushing through his veins. The necklace. All he needed was the necklace to get out of there. His trembling hand reached his neck, only to be met with cold skin and a frantic pulse. It’s gone! He realized with absolute shock, was this the end?
He quickly put back his hand to where it was to keep himself steady. In a fraction of a second, a state of nothingness fell upon him. And a strange cold seeped through his bones. Soon, the hectic sound of shoes hitting against the deck turned to water splashing. It flooded the ferry, from every direction. A huge wave came crashing through and the wanderer was pushed down against the ground as the salty water burned his eyes. And then he saw it. A sparkling thing in the corner of his eyes. Before his brain could process anything, he snatched the necklace and placed it back.
He had three seconds left there. One. His heart was pounding hard. There was this desire in him to carve the chaos of this place in his mind and to make it disappear at the same time. Two. His gaze traveled from the drowning passengers to the ones who were being rescued. Death and a new life in one frame. It was unsettling to see it all, to feel everything and then nothing. And he understood that death is nearer than we think it is. That no one is really prepared for it. And more than anything, he wanted to save every single one there. But he knew he couldn’t change history. There was no turning back. Three. So, heart shattered to pieces, he touched the necklace. And maybe, a tear or two fell down on his cheeks as the portal appeared…
Written By : Imen Abidi.
Chapter 6 : Rwanda, the Rwandan Genocide.
This is a journey unlike any other, offering a rare glimpse into a dark period of time.
The wanderer was suddenly transported to an unfamiliar place. He looked around with a sense of bewilderment, trying to grasp a detail, something he could recognize, but nothing seemed to click. He was in a dense forest surrounded by hills. The air was thick and humid, filled with the scent of exotic plants and damp earth. The sounds of birds singing, leaves rustling, and towering trees swaying in the breeze all blended together to create a symphony of harmonious sounds across the wilderness.
The forest was alive and vibrant, and the wanderer was struck by its beauty and serenity.
Despite his earlier confusion and fear, a wave of enthusiasm swept over his body at the thought of having a new mission of discovery and uncovering the mysteries of this new place.
The wanderer was bursting with curiosity and a fascination for exploration like ever. He hankered after adventure and was always eager to take on new experiences.
And so he sat off into the unknown. The sun had set and darkness had fallen, his steps now became slower as he walked through the dark terrains of the forest. The cool air was refreshing against his skin, and the sounds of the night were a comforting presence .
When he reached the top of the hill, he paused to catch his breath and take in the stunning view before him. The city below was illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights, resembling bright stars in a dark sky. As the night progressed, new lights continued to evolve and their soft glow contrasted beautifully with the starry sky overhead which was the cherry on top.
The refreshing soft breeze and the sounds of crickets humming added a sense of peacefulness to this magical atmosphere.
That night’s scene was indeed a sensory feast and the wanderer said under his breath:” I must be very lucky to witness nature, in all its splendor and glory.”
He then started to look around for a place to sleep. He found a comfortable spot between a few rocks, sheltered from the wind but still has a good view. He laid down, gazing up at the sky and feeling blissful. At last, he was drifting off into Dreamland, embraced by the warmth of nature and surrounded by its beauty.
Hours had passed and the world was slowly waking up from its slumber as the sun rose above the realms of horizon, indicating the beginning of a new day. The wanderer, however, remained in a deep sleep.
The sunlight brushed against his face. Singing birds woke him up, and he felt like he had slept better than ever before. He stretched his arms in contentment, and as he stood up, he was rewarded with breathtaking sights.
The sky was crystal clear and streaked with bright white clouds. The hills stretched out in a wide arc along the horizon with their greenery slopes and vivid wildflowers. And under the influence of the sunlight, trees, plants and grasses were all shimmering. The sound of humming was everywhere, all was fluttering and flying, with new smells and new hues, the wanderer was evidently in a state of sensual intoxication.
That scene was like a masterpiece that came to life from a painter’s canvas.
As he was contemplating the landscapes, he sensed a familiarity from this place ,which he could not recognize at first, and wasn’t quite sure why.
Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, he realized he was in Rwanda, the Central African jem. The hills, forests and exotic smells – it all made sense in his mind now.
This small country located in the heart of Africa and known as the « land of a thousand hills » for its captivating mountainous terrains. The wanderer really felt as if he was in a dream. But soon he realized that this was not a dream, but the beauty and wonder of Rwanda as it truly is.
For a long moment, the wanderer simply sat on top of the hill, taking in the beauty of Rwanda and feeling grateful for this opportunity to visit it because he had always longed for learning more about its culture and history.
He closed his eyes, inhaled deeply and fresh air filled his lungs. He was overwhelmed by a sense of refreshment and vitality, as if nothing could disturb this pleasure.
Suddenly, a burst of screaming sounds was heard faintly from down the village. The wanderer was confused as to what could be the reason for this commotion. And so, he decided to get down to the nearby village down the hills and discover for himself.
As he was stumbling his way through the forest, heart pounding fast in his chest, feeling uneasy and not knowing what he was going to witness, he tripped over some tree roots and almost fell but he contained himself so as not to be heard.
Finally he reached a part of town that was empty and lifeless. Gloominess hung over it like a dark cloud. It was a haunting and eerie sight at once.
A sense of fear started to well up inside him, as he realized that he was completely alone in this place. He looked around trying to find any proof of what was happening and he saw a house with a wide open door. He entered slowly, with glazed eyes, scanning everything surrounding him until he saw a calendar hung on the wall and he stopped abruptly.
But as he was reading the date, he stood speechless, his eyes grew bigger and an expression of fear was drawn all over his face. It was “1 April 1994”, an indelible date in the history of Rwanda.
It marked the beginning of the Rwandan genocide, a mass slaughter and one of the most horrific acts of violence in recent times. Over a period of 100 days, from April to July 1994, an estimated 800,000 people from the Tutsi ethnic group, as well as moderate Hutus, were massacred by Hutu militia groups.
The wanderer realized with growing horror that this tragic event was happening right at that moment.
And in a trice, a loud scream shattered the silence of the place, it felt as if it was from just outside the house. A brick of panic and uncertainty lodged in his gut. He didn’t know what to do next but curiosity overcame him and decided to take a look.
He went out but found nothing. He continued walking cautiously between trees to avoid being seen.
Soon, a repugnant sight was presented before his eyes.
There was a woman lying on the ground, her face was bloody and her arms clenched to her baby. A few feet from her, there was a man, completely covered in blood and his features were unrecognizable. These unfortunate souls seemed to be once a family…and now they were gone.
The wanderer had a terrible sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach and felt as if a million volts surged through his body. No other sight provoked such a visceral reaction.
He walked away, eventually, having seen enough, while the wails of distressed people and children rang through the air.
A real tragic story was being played out in the streets of Rwanda not like a fairytale.
In that moment, the wanderer felt desperate to stop this increasing madness that was tearing Rwanda apart. He wanted to put an end to this violence and hatred. He wanted to yell, to scream and to cry out against it all.
Yet again, it was much bigger than what he could offer. He couldn’t help everyone, could he? Plus, the tragedy has already started happening.
Ultimately, he realized that he can’t change the course of history and it was destined to be.
He knew that Rwanda will emerge as a resilient nation despite all the challenges it has faced and won’t turn the page to this tragedy but rather turn the tide to its growth and flourishment to ensure a better future for its citizens.
Remembering the Rwandan Genocide is important for acknowledging the victims and survivors of this devastating event, and for ensuring that such atrocities never occur again. It serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of hatred and division.
Rwanda, nowadays, is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa and has been acknowledged for its hard work and innovative strategies to catalyze positive change.
The wanderer learned from this journey that even in the midst of such darkness, there is always hope for a brighter future to arise.
He already had an inkling that this might be an experience of a lifetime and a story to be shared for all times. Undoubtedly, Rwanda will hold a precious place in his heart.
And so the wanderer sat off to a new journey, filled with a sense of gratitude at the infinite adventures that lie ahead and convinced that there are plenty of great things to unravel.
Written By : Chams Daghsni.
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