Caged Mind

By Moseka Phiona

Is she breathing? Is she alive?” I heard a voice ask. I try to get up but my body fails to move. “Am I dead?” I try to speak but I can’t, if I were dead I probably wouldn’t be speaking in my mind, would I? I thought to myself while aghast. “What’s going on? Why can’t they hear me? Why can’t I move a muscle?” I’m screaming out and calling out to you, please hear me, I sob from within, fighting with everything in me to open my eyes but nothing seems to work…no matter how hard I try, it’s like a mosquito trying to lift a saucepan. I was stiff as a corpse but aware of my surrounding.

I hear a soft sob. A gentle touch on my cheeks, a tear drop to my face, that perfume was very familiar…”I am here my child, can you please give me a sign that you are still in there? Please show me a sign, anything my love.” I hear the pain in my mother’s voice, the tremble in her delicate fingers on my face as she breaks with each word she says. “Mama” I scream, “I’m here Mama, I don’t know what’s going on, I’m so scared help me Mama…I am here.” I sob with frustration.

“Come let’s go and let the doctors do their job,” I hear another voice say to Mama. With so much panic and fear pushing my body so hard to fight the cage of my mind, I cry, “No Mama, please don’t leave me here alone, I’m scared and cold. Mama.” Her fragile hands slowly lift from my cheeks, the shadow that she was unsteadily drifts away from my shut eyes, hands trembling. “I love you my child, I know you can fight this, come back to me…Mama is always going to be here waiting for you to come back to her, you are my joy, my little fighter…I’m sorry that you have to go through this,” she says to me. I feel the warmest feeling, the touch of her soft lips on my forehead and a whisper to my ears that keeps me here. “Come home to me” she says as she moves away.

A prick to my arm, a sudden cold and now I’m unaware of my surrounding but still in the cage of my mind…I had created a safe space for myself in my head, a place where I wasn’t going to get hurt, a cage that protected me from the outside reality of being a refugee and living in this camp, where young girls get abused every other day and told because they do not belong to this country they have to pay for occupying space. I was made to pay with my innocence. The scary reality of my life made me build this cage around me because I thought I had nothing to live for. But Mama was my home and I realized that home wasn’t a place but rather a person. I knew I had to fight to get out of this cage that I had created in my mind. To be able to smile and see mama’s smile again is all I need.


8 December, 2022