Water is not always a sign of life.
When the back of your boat disappears between the jaws of the sea and you have to cling to the other end with your life, it’s not life. It is cold, saline death, filling its belly, life after life.
You hear your heart beat with clarity even with all the screaming around you.
You cling tight as the water takes in the boat, till it swallows you. Whole.
You feel the cold salty sea burn your nose, your eyes, your lungs. It is the desert all over again, crossing with holes in your shoes, in August last year.
A knot in your chest is getting tighter, taking all the air, and with every muscle in your body, you push upwards, again, and again, till you hit the surface.
Air, precious air, with fear hanging low like a fog.
You feel something hit your back gently, it’s a baby drifting free, a dead one. You find something floating nearby. It looks like a large log, but what matters now is it keeps you afloat. It doesn’t save you from what is biting you now though — the cold.
You feel all the warmth in your body struggling to keep it out like you struggled to make a living back in your country. You fear you might lose this war too.
Minutes feel like lifetimes, and each passing moment is your journey from motherland across the Sahara all over again.
You start to lose to the cold, limb by limb.
By the time someone screams “the boats are coming”, you don’t hear, because you’ve become your dreams — dead and drifting hopelessly.
It’s because your mouth filled up with water again, like Africa, but motherland is filled with the wrong things, and it swallows people whole.