Ugandan Pride – Laura D

7 Jul

Eric doesn’t count birthdays

But guesses at 22

 

At 12 Eric was drafted

A child soldier

Under the reign

Of a tyrant

 

A 14

Word spread quicker than famine

That upon orders

Eric does not … attack women

Like the other boys

He does not molest or cause deeper distress

Than violence

Like the other boys

Isn’t driven

At the vision of their quivering naked bodies

He can barely even look

Ad refuses to claim what he is told

Is his… to toy with

 

Plunged at the feet of his commander

Eye to eye

Refusing to cry

Struggling to swallow his heart’s biggest lie

I AM NOT GAY

 

“Then prove it”

 

At 16

A girl from the village

Appears to have already met men like this

She does not falter as they dutifully raise their fists

 

Both thrown into the mud hut gun hold

Told

One will be shot upon leaving through this door

For the sin of homosexuality

Or for being a whore

 

In the drips of sun through the skylight

All courage dissolved

Eric’s tears cascade like hot butter

Down his dusted skin

And trace the contours of his face

 

“You cannot be blamed for your heart”

 

The young girl spoke

Eyes devoid of tears

She tor at her skirt

Told him to hit the walls

Show signs of a fight

She clawed at her thighs

Blackened her own eyes

And yelled through a twisted smile

 

She fell at his feet

Asked him to drag her outside

Kissed him on the cheek

Told him

One day

He would understand

 

He complied with her request

Beaten- out of breath

They emerged from the hold

To the other boys and men and guns

Commanding officer spat

“See… wasn’t that fun?”

 

While hands patted Eric’s back

He flinched at the shot

The shot he knew was meant for him

As a young girls silhouette

Absorbed the fault in this country’s definition of sin

Corpse left to fall and become rotten

Thou shall not murder – conveniently forgotten

 

Ten years from that moment

He tells an English stranger his whole tale

How his eyes still burn heavy

With the memory of a young girl’s body

Broken, beautiful, scars like brail

 

Now he marches once again

In the same Uganda

Alongside men

Who are not armed, not feared, and not yet regarded

Who are provoked by their heart’s inability to harden

 

 

Eric marches each year

The young girl’s bones forever

Laid across his spine

For April 2014

Was the first successful

Ugandan Pride

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