the short story project


Diana Richard


I was born in spring, I am the daughter of rain, I have my mothers’ smile and my father’s stir.  to me the world is grey, I see reality in a different meaning.  My name is Perla, mama calls me the pearl of her heart. I was born and raised in Tanzania, a tiny village of ujamaa. My parents were farmers, making an end meet. To the world, I was a victim burned with silence, to my family I was her. I remembered that night just like it was yesterday, the calmness of it as cunning as the storm, I recall that day was when I meet fate.


As tradition the eldest daughter was the driver of the family, every evening I was sent to the Mara markets to collect raw fish.  That night when my mother sent me it was different. I could tell that something was lurking in the corner.  alone at night while walked, a group of Men about eight of them approached me, I could sense fear in me, but I pose calmly, I remember one of them asking me, what was a beautiful girl like me, wondering in the streets alone. I answered with concern, I am just doing my chores, the next thing I recall was my body pushed against the floor, I could feel the chills, running on my veins, I stale and I froze like ice. I was ten when eight men choose my fate when I was raped in cold in blood. When my innocence was stolen, I was ten. I screamed, I still recall how sharp my cry, who I felt the anguish within my spine, I still recall.

As I fell flat to my belly against the ground. I could sense my skin peel, my body paralyzed. What wounds me is that someone, saw all these in the replay. What worse could have happened than, pick me up. And let the pretend consent.


I just want you to know that I was the happiest girl in Ujamaa, my parents were my light. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but my slum was my haven, I loved my family. Tanzania is my home, my birthright. When I was six babas brought me a gift it was a pearl, she placed it around my neck and she kissed and reminded me that may it bring all the joy and peace in your life.  Then why do I feel the grip of rage taunting me like a shadow?

I still see them, all of them, how the devoured me, like a dear to the lioness. I still could sense their smell, rotting like the circus. I still could see myself helpless. I just wanted an honest childhood. I promised myself that I would not share these with my family, I could not watch the scattered, I am the one who is scattered like dust on water.


Mama said when I was born it rained hard, it was like a blessing from above, she said that the sky was blue as the ocean, calm as waves. When I was born the sky cried, I still emulate what she meant by that, mama said I was pale like nude, my little face was pretty like heaven. She said I never cried. I was just quite as echo. I was born to a third world country, to the country of Men.   I am Sukuma, a tribe in the northern part of Tanzania, a tribe so shallow and ill-minded, a tribe of greed. a woman in shallow in Tanzania, a woman has a voice of her own. She is just figment.  My mother was not in love when she married my father, she was forced. But it’s a law, silence is golden.


When I was six the world was colored with rainbows, my mother would take me to the high street, and I could watch how this machine (cars) raced like time, I had a grand imagination, some days I would talk to myself. and wished I was the lady on Tv. I never understood pain, the youth felt enlighten. My mother taught me the law of love and forgiveness, and my father said I could be anyone I wanted to be, all I had to do was a bow and pray. And God would listen. Where was God when I was raped, did he listen? Did he pardon me!  I had a grand childhood, but my fate was decided by cowards. When I went home that night, something within me was gone, I could tell mama knew it, but she had little concern about it. The filth dripped within my skin; I could shower for years but the stains were bonded to me. I could tell you how my nights were invading with flashbacks, I screamed most of the nights, fear became my friend. And anger my lover. My parents didn’t understand my change, but I knew that Perla died that night, she was taken by the men who robbed her.


Mama’ always quoted this “your body is your temple,”. Your holy sanctuary. I feel my body was invaded by men; my sanctuary destroyed by lust.



Every night it was a tradition in my family to sit together and burn our inner rage. We would share stories but most importantly we would be thankful.  My dad would rave about tales of the past, he told me riddles of life, and yet he taught me about forgiveness. But I felt something different, I didn’t want forgiveness, I wanted vengeance. I perpetuated schemes of how I was going to kill them, but I was meet with rage and fear.

I was born on April 16, 1991, when South Africa had its first independence. My grandparents were longing for a boy, but I came first. My country sees women as useless, the don’t see the purpose in them, women should birth, and remain at home. But I guess my family was different, they wanted a better future for me. They wanted to see me exile high and they wanted me to follow my dreams.


When I was eight I was enrolled in Murcko Primary School in Arusha Tanzania, t was a Christian boarding school,  I still remember the excitement I withheld as I approached the scenery, I still recall the scent of You could smell the fresh aromas of black spruce and doulas fir as you could taste the sweetness of the cacao with a tangerine. The sweetness of orange and the melodies across the fish pond was centered on the spirits of the green birds. A place I call home “the squeaky noise of fowl, the wallows of water in a crocked fountain gives you the sense and the aroma of sweet cocoa and the crispiness of eucalyptus. As you gaze towards the core the main entrance brings you to a familiar harmony across the street retelling the taste of Vanilla and Scotch pine.


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