My name is Leisan and I see things.
“See what?” you ask? The honest truth is… I see everything.
Ever since I was a young girl my mother made sure I knew I was different from all the other children, I was special. Different.
“That sounds lovely, so she was very supportive of you then?”
It wasn’t the good kind of special.
Sometimes we would stay indoors for days on end, those days were filled with strange and fascinating stories: of men with no eyes that prowled the forests at night, and the ghost of girls who could float high above the trees like eagles hunting them, and the wars that these men fought, the wars that both sides lost, wars that raged on for generations.
I never liked these kind of stories, they scared me too much.
I preferred when she gathered all the children around and told us happier tales: of great warriors and chiefs, kings and prophets.
My favorite was the one about a princess who saved her kingdom from being destroyed by a giant frog using only her wits and a little gourd. These stories made us happy and excited, and for most of the girls taught us that we too could be great people and not only in our neighborhood. The only limits set for us were those in our imaginations.
Before my thirteenth birthday the biggest crowd I had seen was about three hundred people. This was whenever the village was visited by the chief of our region.
During these visits we gathered in the field with the big tree; its giant roots forming a natural dais for the government man and his posse as they sat on plastic chairs mumbling amongst themselves: sipping lukewarm sodas. These meetings were meant to be a platform for the people to air out any problems they had that needed anything to do with the government. The nearest river had long since dried up but the government man sold us to dreams of days when we would all have piped water. Straight to our kitchens and repairs to the school, a hospital, so many promises.
At these forums there was always problems to be addressed and usually one of the other men who came with the chief would stand up in his shiny suit and try to half-heartedly give a coated excuse that we proles would lap up, sprinkled with jargon to confuse the minds of the more inquisitive.
The chief addressed the crowd very rarely and when he did it was always from a small blue notebook that never left his left hand. The first time I saw him clasping it I told myself I would have to learn how to read, so that I too could read from a small notebook.
The chief always spoke like he was very grumpy and worried, in a low steady rumble that everyone strained to hear. He always read out the first part of his speech from the notebook and in this steady monotone. The second half of his address would be filling us on whatever was going on in the capital and other parts of the country, the stories that the government needed us to hear of course. I always watched as his dark beady eyes moved twitchily over the paper, with his brow furrowed as if he had to think really hard. It was a sharp contrast to the calm way in which he scanned his audience when giving the official report. I saw what those eyes were shouting.
Even as a young girl, I could see that they had come to witness things I could not imagine. They looked labored and pained, while still lit with a fire of anger and hate and rage. I always wished I could comfort this troubled old man. He died before I got a chance to though.