My Aunt Mariam was to become a mother. When the soldiers saw this they threw her to the ground and ripped her open with their bayonets, thinking, in their ignorant way, she had hidden a great amount of money. They were so disappointed they fell upon the other women with renewed energy.
Of the two hundred or more who were subjected to this treatment, only a little group survived. When they crawled back into the camp and into the arms of their relatives they had screamed so much they could not talk—they had lost their voices. My poor mother had given up all the money she had about her, but had not admitted that others of her family had more. She was bleeding from many cuts and bruises when she reached us, and fainted as soon as she saw Lusanne and me running to her. We carried her into the camp and used the last of our drinking water, which we had treasured from the day before, to bathe her wounds.
When the soldiers and zaptiehs had divided the money which they had taken, they came in among us again to pick out young women to take to the officers’ tent. The moonlight was so bright none of us could conceal ourselves. Lusanne was sitting with the children, comforting them, while I had taken my turn at attending mother’s wounds. A zaptieh caught her by the hair and pulled her to her feet.
“Spare me, my mother is dying — spare me!”