I remember the blood. I remember how the screaming turned into silence. I remember how the prayers turned into a cry for help. I was at home when I heard a neighbor of mine Abimbola scream that president Habyarimana was shot down. I remember the horror in my mother’s face. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew that nothing good was to come.That night was not like any other night. The neighbors were in the middle of our town rioting and all I could make out from the noise was that the Tutsi’s were going to die. Being a Tutsi, I asked Mãe, my mother, what these people were talking about. All she could say was “Chidike, please stay in your bed,”. My brother Adisa, and my sister Dayo, were too young to understand what was happening. Even I was. The following morning was April 7, 1994, my birthday. I turned 12. I was awakened by Mãe, who was holding a coconut cake in her hands, wearing the most beautiful smile. “ Feliz aniversário, Chidike!” She sings to me. Adisa and Dayo follow behind Mãe. For a slight second everything was so perfect. I hugged Mãe, Adisa and Dayo and thanked them. Dayo who was only 3 started singing to me. During her song we noticed that it was silent outside. Way too silent. I looked outside the window and my stomach turned upside down. The neighbors sat in the center of town in a circle with their eyes glued to a messenger from Kagame, Rwanda. He was covered in blood and was having trouble catching his breath. Mãe told us to stay in my room, so we did. She ran outside to listen to what was happening. I ran behind her but hid behind the door of the house. I could hear the messenger say that the Hutu rebels are coming our way and that they were going to slaughter all of us. At this point I didn’t know what to think. So I continued to listen. “ They are coming for you as they did my town. You have to flee with your families. You have to hide! They will kill your children or make your children kill you! If you are Tutsi, please listen to me. Run!” Everybody stood in silence for a couple seconds before breaking into a panic. I saw my mother run into the house straight into her room. She grabbed our identification cards and all of our pictures. She finally stopped and looked me in my eyes and said “ Chidike, grab your brother and sister and go to the kitchen and sit down.” So I did what I was told. Adisa and Dayo sat with me under the table. Adisa who was only 9, asked me what was happening and I couldn’t answer him because I was too focused on Mãe. She started to cry as well as pray. A fear grew upon me.“Mãe! What’s happening? Are we really going to die?” I asked her. She stopped racing around and got on her knees to pull me close to her. She says, “Chidike, I need you to be brave. The Hutus have created a rebel group. They are going town to town killing all the Tutsis. We are Tutsi Chidike! We have to run. We have to hide my boy. We cannot let the Hutus find us.” At this point I’m crying. I ask her why they are doing this to us. She couldn’t answer. So I grabbed her by her hand and told her we were going to be ok. We went over to our Hutu neighbors house who had a barn. They hid us inside the hay stacks. Dayo started crying and my heart started racing. Mãe grabs Dayo and tells her that were playing a game. She told her that to win she had to be quiet and still no matter what. Dayo stopped crying and agrees to play. Efua, our Hutu neighbor tells us to climb into the parted hay stack. When we climb in, she covers our body with the other half of the stack. Efua runs inside her house and shuts all the blinds and turns off all the lights. We lay in the haystack trying not to make any movements or sounds. Around noon of that day we heard a truck riding into town. My mother whispers for us to be quiet and still no matter what. The only thing that passes my mind is that I was finally 12. I could finally play with the big kids in town. I wasn’t thinking at all about what was going on around us. I could feel my legs cramp up from being in the same position for so long. I shifted to the side a little and a chunk of hay fell from over our heads onto the ground. Our heads were now out in open light. My heart stopped. My mother sat in shock for a quick second and then hopped out of the haystack to cover us. She whispered from outside of the haystack, “I’ll be back, I love you, my little ones!”I immediately grabbed Adisa and Dayo by their hands. I closed my eyes and listened. All I could hear is people running around in silence. Whispers were passed around, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. This went on for two hours before we heard a gunshot followed by screaming. Mãe came to the haystack panting. She whispered, “Listen babies, the Hutus are here. Stay put. I will come for you at sunrise, till then stay still and stay quiet,”. I didn’t know what to think but as always I did what was asked of me. From the haystack I heard children crying and women screaming for their lives. Loud cries to God, begging for mercy. Moments into the massacre, I hear a truck stop right in front of our haystack. My heart stops for a second and continues to the sound of a soldier's footsteps. I repeat in my head over and over. “Please Adisa be still. Please Dayo be quiet,” The closer the footsteps get to our haystack the faster my heart was racing.“We have to kill all of these roaches. Look at that one over there,” the Hutu soldier says with a sinister sound to his voice. “ You go get those sluts, I’ll get there their children,” he laughs out while walking slowly away from the haystack. It was silent for about five minutes before we heard the gunshots again. This time I could here as the bullets punctured the bodies of my neighbors. I could here the machete cutting through the bones of my friends. I could hear the cries of babies as they are snatched from their mothers.There was a chilling silence. The sounds of death roams the town of Byumba. It’s dark out and I smell rain coming. I feel the hay on my skin and it no longer makes me want to scratch my skin. I feel the hands of my brother and sister and feel fear through their fingertips. We sit and we wait for Mãe to come for us. The sun was now rising. Dayo and Adisa haven’t made a sounds. I’m scared because Mãe did not come yet. I start to cry thinking the Hutu men have taken her. Sitting there I remember that Mãe always told my siblings and I to run to the church and to hide under the pews if we were ever scared. So we did just that. I grabbed their Adisa and Dayo’s hand and with caution proceeded to the front of Efua’s house. My heart fell to my feet when I seen the massacre that occurred. Arms, legs and severed heads laid on the ground where the town kids and I play. Fires burning the school we spend our days in. Blood streams laying upon the soil I was raised on. Adisa and Dayo stand still and didn’t move a muscle. I tugged on their hands to continue but still they stayed in place. I didn’t know what to do so I yelled for Mãe. No answer. I cried for Mãe. No answer so we ran to the church. As we opened the doors of the church I could hear whispers. I look closely and see my neighbors hiding under the church’s pews. Adisa and Dayo run to the front of the church and hide under the altar’s stairs.Even though I was surrounded by neighbors I played with every day, they looked at me in fear and didn’t say a word to me. All I heard were whispers saying, “Close the doors,” and “Did they leave?”. I didn’t say anything, I just hid under a pew and waited. We sat in silence for a long time before we heard the church’s radio come on. The person speaking was the general of the Hutu army. “We have killed thousands of them. We have slaughtered their children and families. Our leaders have been killed. The Hutus will no longer be inferior to the Tutsis. We are now superior. If you are a Hutu married to a Tutsi, kill them before we do and if you do not, we will behead you. We have to weed out all the cockroaches in Rwanda!”My first thought was to flee. I wanted to run as far as I could so that the Hutus wouldn’t get me. They would either kill me or make me become a soldier. I remember thinking to myself that there was no way I could become a soldier. I don’t know how to kill. The doors of the church flew open as a woman ran in screaming, “My babies! Where are my babies?!” I stood up to look who the woman was and cried because it was my mother. She grabs holds me close to her and quickly remembers that she had two other children and asked for them. I ran up to the altar and looked under the steps to see Adisa and Dayo were sleeping. Mãe was relieved and sat down next to me. Again it was silent at the church. I was relaxed because we were on sacred ground. I kept thinking, “No one would dare kill anyone inside the church,”. I turned to my mother and asked her if we were safe and she too thought the same as I did. With my mind at ease I join my brother and sister and rest my head against my mother’s torso.All the sudden we hear a truck. We hear rioting outside and quickly everyone sprang up to hide. Mãe grabbed my siblings and I and ran behind the altar. “I thought we were safe Mãe! I thought they couldn’t get us in here!” I cried in fear. “Hush now Chidike! We must be silent!” She quickly said to me.When I thought things couldn’t get any worse the church doors fly open and standing there was a Hutu rebel with a gun. Laughing he says, “ No, this is not your refuge! God, can not save you now,”. My heart was beating so fast I felt like I was vibrating. Guns were fired. Blood was shed. The church floors, walls and the bible's laying over the pews were stained by my neighbor's blood. A Hutu soldier named Joseph came up to my family and just looked at us. He handed me a handgun with one hand while pulling Mãe away with the other. He laughed and told me to shoot Mãe right in the face. I cried and let go of the gun. He picked me up and struck me. “ Shoot her or I will kill you both!” Joseph ordered me. I refused to shoot and my mother looked at me and calmly said, “Do it Chidike. I will not hold it against you my baby. I love you,”. Mockingly the Hutu soldiers laughed at her. I cried and begged Mãe not to make me do this. Joseph got impatient and was now screaming at me to shoot my own mother. My mother looked at him with hate in her eyes and spoke, “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.” Genesis 6:9. She then turned her head back to me and said, “Do it Chidike. I love you.” I refused she then ordered over and over, “Do it Chidike! I love you!” My heart was pounding and my body was drowned in sweat. I found myself light headed, losing my balance. My eyes were open but nothing was clear. I remember hearing a white noise as I stared into the sinister eyes of these Hutu soldiers. I would look at my family and I had flashbacks to when Dayo was born and how happy Adisa and I were to have an addition to the family. I looked at Mãe and smiled because I was blessed with a good mother who loved me endlessly. Joseph was now counting down 10 seconds until he ended not only my life but my family’s as well. I snapped back into reality and realized there were only five seconds left in Joseph’s countdown. An uncontrollable rage grew inside of me and I took the gun and shot him as well as two of his other men.Lights flashed before my eyes as I hit the ground. I remember the pain of the gunshot wound to my lungs. I remember seeing Adisa and Dayo taking a shot to the head while Mãe was forced to watch. While my lungs slowly filled with blood I could hear my mother’s cry as her she sees her children die before her eyes. The last thing I remember seeing was my mothering taking a bullet to the heart. I remember using my last breath to ask God to forgive me. I remember feeling the last heart beat. I remember everything.