The conflict was the very earliest thing that Allia could remember. She was only 8 but the conflict was always there. It was always a matter of the 'other people', as her Mommie and Daddy called them, and the Christian group to which they themselves belonged.
Days, weeks, months were spent worrying about the 'other people', and her Mommie, not wanting to cause undue problem for her little girls, for Allia and her little sister Daila, never went into great details about the problems and the dangers.
Yet, Allia knew well enough, just by sensing the atmosphere at home and around, that the problems were real and dangerous.
It was the background, the atmosphere in which she grew up.
She was only 8 but at that age was already the care giver for her little sister Daila, who was four years younger than she.
Allia was, even at her young age, a gorgeous child. She had raven black hair and large and expressive dark eyes. She was the pride and joy of her Mommie and Daddy but they were incessantly caught up in the problems that were occurring with the 'other people'. They tried to provide love and comfort but they lived in a time, an age, and a place where there was little such comfort to be had or doled out.
As a result, Allia grew on her own pretty much and her entrance into what was really an adult world was forced by her need to take care of the little Daila. She was, innocent though she had been at the time, the mother figure for Dalia, since both her Daddy and her Mommie were that busy working on the problems and the defenses that were necessary to keep the 'other people' at bay.
There was neither time nor enough local peace for much schooling. But Allia was a bright child and quickly enough learned what lessons she could. Then, on her own, she continued to do some studying to learn English from a book that she'd gotten from the school, and try to teach the little Daila some of the same. It was certainly rudimentary but it served to keep them occupied by something that was worth while for them both.
The difficulty for them, the very tragedy for them was that while the love was there, there was precious little time for it. Their lives and where they lived were constantly in danger, and that message from Mommie and Daddy was part of the important messages that were shared with their daughters.
Allia understood well enough, but Dalia wasn't just sure what was meant by the local dangers to their lives.
Still there was a kind of everyday routine about the way that they lived their lives. Though they were always lives on the edge and in expectation of danger and worse for them.
Allia tried to ignore that as best she could, and be a good influence and a good model for the little Daila.
But the time came, as it usually, in fact almost always does, the time came and the 'other people' made a move that caught the local people off guard.
It was brutal and it was intense. Allia survived but only because she was hiding and grieving because she had had no time to gather to herself the little Daila.
She was indeed left in the rubble with no further thoughts or information about Mommie or Daddy. They seemed to simply be part of those who'd been swept away.
Allia lived those days in the rubble that was left. She was alone and she was afraid but determined. She'd been able to find, almost dig up enough food things to make sure that she wouldn't at least have a problem for the foreseeable future.
Her mind turned to and worried about the little Daila all the time, for they'd been separated in the kind of fray that happened with the attack that took place.
She supposed that it was a local enough problem that no one in the world would be paying any attention to it. But there she was wrong.
After a few days, with Allia living in the rubble of her house and using the food stores that she could find in the ruins to keep herself going, the world was finally present and took notice.
The soldiers in the blue helmets came. That's the way that Allia remembered them, and thought about them. They were the soldiers in the blue helmets.
They came to the place where Allia was hiding out and still worrying about the little Daila and they took her with them.
Allia was frightened, when she was found. She was afraid of what these latest soldiers would do, and never very far from her mind were her thoughts about the little Daila.
She gave herself the message constantly that she was in charge of the little Daila and had indeed failed that trust. She tried to push that thinking to the back of her mind, since her number one task at the time was simply survival.
But she found them to be kind and gentle. One of them a tall man in his blue helmet, reached for her, when she was found, and picked her up.
Allia was terrified; her large dark eyes were clamped shut at the time. Her fear had overcome her.
They took care of her, however, and made sure she had good food to eat, and was washed and simply cared for.
That day for her was a kind of revelation. She was taken to a camp and was given a good meal. She ate it all the while looking around and suspecting what might be going to happen.
Allia that day, for her part, was silent and simply assented quietly to whatever the treatment was going to be, even though she was learning that the soldiers with the blue helmets were not like the cruel and almost demonic 'other people' who'd waged war on her own people, and did it, as far as she could ever find out, because she and her own people were simply different, the Christian party.
Allia didn't really understand that kind of motive but she did learn that such was the motive for the attacks that carried off her family: Mom, Dad and the little Daila. And in her heart of hearts, she suspected that they were all simply gone, leaving only her the survivor.
She spent a day with the soldiers in the blue helmets. She came to think of them as the 'UN'soldiers, though she didn't really now what 'UNsoldiers' were, apart from simply these in the blue helmets. They were, however, kind and attentive to her.
After feeding her and making sure that she had a rest in their camp, which was very comfortable and had simply grand vehicles where she rested, she was taken by a kind of woman soldier and given a bath.
Allia loved baths. They were a sign to her, through her life, of how good things could be, when it was peaceful enough for her to have her baths.
This bath was one of the best ever. She had to admit that to herself. The kind woman talked to her and sang little songs to her, as she had the bath.
Allia liked that but she still was not talking. She was existing inside of her mind and talking there only to herself.
To tell the truth, Allia was still having her problems with the loss of her parents and the little Daila. Over and over, in her mind, she repeated the phrase: "They're gone from me now. So many are gone but these were mine, these were my Mommie and Daddy and my little Daila, and they're gone."
The somber message was part of her every waking moment in those first days with the soldiers in the blue helmets.
TIME IN THE CAMP
Allia stayed with the soldiers in the blue helmets, the 'UNsoldiers' for a few days. There were a few women 'UNsoldiers' who took care of her and a number of other children who'd come from the area that had been overrun and decimated in the attack of the 'other people'.
The brief life that she had with those 'UNsoldiers' was one that helped to settle her down. It was peaceful and she was taken such good care of.
She remained silent still, repeating the seemingly endless mantra of her failure to take care of the little Daila and the loss of her Mommie and Daddy.
That was essentially one of the very first lessons that she learned from the pretty 'UNsoldier' lady named Patti. Patti was the one who took care of Allia and made sure, in those days, that her needs were met.
Patti was also the one who had a talk with Allia one day to tell her that they, the 'UNsoldiers', were sure that Allia's Mommie and Daddy were among those killed in the recent raids.
Allia then gave way to the overwhelming news and simply began to cry. The voice within still spoke of the little Daila, and Allia was secretly, personally sure that the little Daila, for whom she'd been responsible, as also gone.
She ran over the scenario in her mind any number of times, and realized the moment, fateful moment, when the little Daila was off by herself and Allia had another errand to take care of, just as the attack happened. The following time was one of huge explosions and gun fire and shouting and people screaming.
Allia, as she remembered it, had no time to do anything but hide, hoping that her Mommie and Daddy and the little Daila were all hiding too.
The news that her Mommie and Daddy didn't hide and were swept away in the attack was black, black news for Allia.
And then, just then, as she gave into the crying and the sense of loss, thinking of her Mommie and Daddy, just then the 'UNsoldier' lady, Patti, scooped her up, put her on her lap and simply held Allia, while she cried.
The 'UNsoldier' lady Patti tried to spend as much time with silent Allia during those first days. Allia certainly appreciated the attention but her world was still almost completely crushed by the losses that had occurred.
She did, at times, cling to the 'UNsoldier' lady Patti but the words were still inside and weren't coming forth very easily or very quickly.
.... There is more of this story ...