A ghostly mist rises above the sun-parched ground, burnt dry by lack of rain.
An agreement appears to have been made - no life in this motionless arena called the homeland will be allowed to exist. The soil, once fresh, now cakes of hardened sand, creviced like an old man on his death bed, his once youthful expression, now a hanging portrait, displays lines of age.
Layers of sand loosened by harsh wind float upwards in chaotic whirls, spurred on by the hot air, silhouetting dead trees, broken raggedly-black. The ground in the far distance bears movement - at first thought a mirage - slow and morbid, a symphony of the final gasp of air.
Straggling onwards, they walk, trudging in pain with each footstep to the destined resting place, that final place to bring new life to life. The distance comes closer, the images larger than previously thought; and the movements slower. Eyes wander aimlessly, as though time had ceased or had never been invented at all.
Skeleton fingers clutch the beloved. Breasts have nothing to offer but try, painfully, bitterly, in hoping for a miracle.
Everything looks fish-eyed and distorted; the world as seen through cataracts. Whimpers and whines play the air, echoing strongly, but the soul too weak to allow for its continuation. There are thousands bodied the same, the murky colour of the blazing sand that tones their skin, as they drift endlessly to death.
She looks down unable to do anything, quite helpless; nowhere to run but she can’t run. She’s too weak. And so she sits, exhausted, waiting for time to finally come. Yet she continues to believe, she will not give up nor accept the prospect of needless death. Here eyes bear the sign of immense pain, a pain without tears, for there are no tears left to drip.
One a beauty but now grotesque and shrunken, the woman clutches her life in her arms, cradles it as though all were well, holding it tightly, afraid of losing it. But she knows defeat is nearby and stops fighting it. Death. Still, she continues to swat the buzzing flies off her child’s mucous-covered face. In a while she stops, realizing that it is of no use and that they, the flies will become the eventual winners in the morbid battle for survival.
Her strength dried up from the blazing hear, she stares helplessly down, the child’s eyes gazing back, confused by the pain. The child, the only child that she loved and that enrobed her in love, now numbs her days, that moment, that petrified moment. Slowly, with extreme difficulty, determined with courage, she bares her skin, all chapped and broken, as she removes the cloth strung over her body so thin, on the verge of transparency.
Her hand reaches for her breast - flat and shrunken like a popped balloon that had been trampled on by people at a carnival - it now dangles as though there had not been a use for it at all. Her fingers reach out for her child to draw it closer to her breast, softly, as though it knew it would no do its duty. But just giving that child one last chance to live, to smile, to burst, with happy laughter.
The child gazes up, never blinking - only on the touch of a fly - moves his head forward, towards life, hoping for the expected. His mouth pulls harder, sucking harder, twitching. The mother frantically pushing her breast deep into his mouth, pushing and panting for results. It is her only child, both of them fighting for survival, a brand new existence. The ballet of movements slows to a trickle. Her child’s eyes close with tiredness and pain. Too much energy spent.
She, too, closes her eyes, exhausted with the effort - not before the tears drop, the first in a long time. The child’s eyes remain shut. She begins to sing the eerie hymn of death in that hot sandy air for her deceased. And is joined by others. Echoing, echoing...