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E-Books (english-e-reader), Remember Atita (1)

Remember Atita (1)

When there is war in a country, it is easy to lose people. Mothers lose children, children lose parents, sisters lose brothers, friends lose friends...

Atita is in Gulu town, looking for her friends. All she has is an old photograph, taken eighteen years ago. At night she sleeps on shop verandas, with all the children from the villages, who are hiding from the rebels. It is a hopeless search, but Atita does not stop hoping...

We're five of the Ten Green Bottles in the nursery rhyme that we sang all those years ago in 1985.

Five Green Bottles standing on the wall of life. Five bright smiling faces stare out of the old black and white photo. Our arms are round each other's shoulders, and we're looking towards the camera, our eyes shining. We don't notice the torn clothes that we're wearing. Our legs are covered with brown soil. We smile through our missing teeth.

2003. The photo of my past lies in my hands, with the edges torn. It's brown with age. It doesn't shine in the light from the shop signpost above me. I pass the photo to Okema, who sits next to me with his legs crossed. There are a lot of us here, sitting on the floor of the shop veranda. A radio is playing loud music.

I'm trying to explain to Okema why I've travelled back to Gulu town to search for the girls in the photo. We sit on the veranda because it's safer to spend the night in the town. The LRA rebels don't come to Gulu town; they only attack the villages. We talk quietly because we don't want to wake the other children, who are sleeping. Okema and I are kept awake by the fear of the night. We talk to hold this fear back. In the distance we hear gunshots from time to time.

The faces in the photo are like strangers. I've been away too long. I'm not sure they'll recognize me when we meet. I begin to get an empty feeling inside me. Tears fill my eyes. Okema takes my hand and whispers, 'It's all right to cry.'

Our eyes meet. I smile. My finger trembles as I pick out the faces. Laker stands close to me in the photo. She and I were born on the same day. We were more like sisters than friends. We had such fun together! She was the leader of the group, and always had the craziest ideas. I wonder what she looks like now. Perhaps she's tall and beautiful.

'Why did you leave Gulu?' Okema asks.

I am not sure how to answer. We leave places because we need to start a new life. I left because my grandfather, Won Okech, died. I had lived in his house since my parents' death, and after his death there was no one to take care of me. Then my mother's cousin, min Komakech, appeared like a rain cloud and took me away to help with her children.

'I don't know,' I lie. I quickly start talking about something else. 'How many children are left in your family?'

'I'm the last of them,' he says. 'That's why my mother makes sure I come to town every evening.'

'I'm the only one in my family too,' I say.

We are two lonely stars.

Sometimes I think this search is hopeless. So much has happened since I last saw my friends. Perhaps they have died or the rebels have taken them away. But I know I have to find Laker. I know she needs me. All I have is this old photo, which no one recognizes. I spend my days under the sun, moving from place to place, but I get no answers.

Okema is asleep. I'd like to sleep too, but I can't. Okema gives a frightened cry in his sleep. I know he has the same dream every night. In his dream the rebels attack his home and take him away from his mother. That's what happened to all his brothers and sisters. And as they take him away, he can hear his mother's screams. He always wakes up then, and finds me staring at him. I tell him that he's safe, and that the rebels are only a bad dream. I pull him to me, put my arms around him and start singing quietly,

Ten green bottles standing on the wall,

Ten green bottles standing on the wall,

If one green bottle should accidentally fall...

Soon he stops crying and goes to sleep again. I know he has slept on verandas in town for almost a year now, hiding from the rebels that attack the villages. When the sun rises, he'll run home to his mother, who'll send him off to school. He's reading for his school-leaving examinations.

'I shall become President and end the war,' he says when he's feeling hopeful.

'I want to see my mother smile again,' he says when he's feeling miserable.

I go on singing the nursery rhyme as I look at the photo. We are five of the ten green bottles on the wall. And if one green bottle should accidentally fall... Which of us fell first?

Gulu Hospital. I'm shaking with excitement. Laker is here. Someone guides me through the hospital, past patients lying on the floor. There are flies everywhere. I pass a bed where a little girl lies, crying with pain. She has no legs. An older woman sits beside her and tries to keep off the flies.

'A landmine,' the guide whispers to me. I stare straight ahead and try to walk faster.

When we reach Laker's bed, I see that she's asleep. We stand silently and wait. The smiling child in the photo has become this poor, sick woman. A torn blue blanket covers her body. The sheet on the bed is brown with dirt. I have waited four weeks for this moment. I was hoping we would laugh and talk about old times together. I did not expect our meeting to be in a hospital.

I hold out my hand to touch her, but the guide stops me. 'She's still sleeping,' he says. I say nothing. I wait.

Suddenly Laker's eyes fly open. She stares at us, with no expression. I smile at her. She continues to stare at me. Her thin face frightens me. Her skin is oily and wet. The heat is awful. Surely the blanket is too hot for her? I move closer.

'Laker,' I whisper, holding her thin hand. I don't think she remembers me. 'It's me, Atita,' I say. 'Won Okech's granddaughter, Atita.' I'm close to her, but I can't reach her.

She opens her mouth. 'Otoo. Won Okech otoo.'

She's right. Won Okech is dead. He died over ten years ago. No one could forget Won Okech. I remember once I told him about a game that we had played with some older boys. We called it playing 'mummy and daddy'. When Won Okech heard that, he was very angry and beat the five of us girls very hard with his stick. We couldn't walk or sit for a week. My friends told me to keep my big mouth shut in future. 'Yes. Won Okech is dead,' I reply.

I want to know what happened to the others, but Laker still doesn't seem to recognize me. The guide tells me it's time to leave. I want to stay, but he won't let me. I bend down and whisper into Laker's ear, 'Laker, please remember Atita.'

That evening on the shop veranda, Okema asks, 'Did you and she talk together? Did she remember you?'

'No.'

'Don't worry, I remember you. Look, I kept a sleeping place for you on the veranda.'

'She said my Won Okech was dead.'

'So that means she remembers...'

'No,' I say coldly, 'she doesn't. I want her to remember me. I want her to remember Atita.'

'I'm sorry,' says Okema.

'Let's not talk about it.'

The other children are restless. Sometimes a figure passes by our veranda or a dog runs past. But most of the time the town square where we sit is empty. The townspeople are locked up in their homes.

I stare ahead. Laker doesn't remember me. Laker doesn't remember Atita. Perhaps I have changed too much. I am a stranger to her. I am not the same Atita who she played with years ago. Time and distance have made us different people. It's the price that we have to pay in the game called life.

I haven't found out why she's in Gulu Hospital. Perhaps a serious illness has made her forget everything.

It's raining now, and a strong wind blows. Loud thunder sends Okema running to me. I hold him close to me. What is he afraid of? 'The rebels came when there was thunder,' he tells me later. We stand because the veranda is so wet.

One of the children starts singing. 'Min latin do, tedo i dye wor... My mother is cooking at night.' I join in, happily. It's a song that Laker and I used to sing when we were young.

Soon we are all singing. The night is cold and wet, but the song helps us feel warm, and we are safe in town away from the rebels.

In the morning it feels good to be still alive. As Okema and the others run home to get ready for school, I go to Gulu Hospital again. I can't take anything to give Laker. There isn't much food around and I have no more money.

Today, as I sit beside her bed, I hold her hands and repeatedly tell her, 'I'm Won Okech's Atita.'

'Otoo. Won Okech otoo,' she replies.

'Yes. Won Okech is dead,' I say.

She reaches out to feel my face. I hope that today she'll remember me. Her hands move over my face and stop at the scar under my chin. Is she remembering? I got that scar when I fell off a seesaw once.

Then she looks at my neck. She used to like the lines round my neck. She always said I didn't need to wear a necklace because I had a natural one. She used to say to me, 'Atita, Atita, bangle-necked Atita.' If she says it now, I will know that she has remembered me.

I watch her face and wait, hoping and hoping for a smile, which will tell me that she knows me. Suddenly she pulls away from me. Her eyes are empty, without expression.

I want to sit here until she remembers me. I've learnt she was found lying in the street near the hospital. No one knows her story, but it will be the usual one. If she can remember the past and the good times, perhaps it will help her get better. She hasn't talked since she came here.

'Laker,' I call. No answer, nothing.

'I have something to show you,' I say.

I take out the photo and hold it before her eyes. I hold my breath, hoping she will remember. She stares at it.

'Do you remember?'

I point to the faces.

'See, you're here in the photo. I am beside you. Atita. See, there are the others - Oyella, Adongping, Lamwaka.'

I'm getting restless. Perhaps Laker will never remember anything. But I'm sure she can tell me about the others. Five bright smiling faces in a photo... Five green bottles standing on a wall... Which of us fell first?

I come here every day. I have to help Laker. Each time I say Won Okech, she gives the same reply,

'Otoo. Won Okech otoo.'

'Yes. Won Okech otoo.' I repeat her words, but I'd like to tell her about my little friend, Okema, who wants to become President and end the war. No more sleeping on verandas to escape the rebels. A life when we can laugh and grow fat from being lazy. Okema wants to make that happen.


Remember Atita (1)

When there is war in a country, it is easy to lose people. ある国で戦争が起こったとき、人を失うのは簡単です。 Mothers lose children, children lose parents, sisters lose brothers, friends lose friends...

Atita is in Gulu town, looking for her friends. アティタはグルの町にいて、友達を探しています。 All she has is an old photograph, taken eighteen years ago. 彼女が持っているのは18年前に撮った古い写真だけです。 At night she sleeps on shop verandas, with all the children from the villages, who are hiding from the rebels. 夜、彼女は店のベランダで眠り、村の子供たち全員が反乱軍から隠れています。 It is a hopeless search, but Atita does not stop hoping...

We're five of the Ten Green Bottles in the nursery rhyme that we sang all those years ago in 1985. 私たちは、1985年に何年も前に歌った童謡の10本のグリーンボトルのうちの5本です。

Five Green Bottles standing on the wall of life. 人生の壁に立っている5つのグリーンボトル。 Five bright smiling faces stare out of the old black and white photo. 5つの明るい笑顔が古い白黒写真から見つめています。 Our arms are round each other's shoulders, and we're looking towards the camera, our eyes shining. 私たちの腕はお互いの肩の周りにあり、私たちはカメラの方を向いており、目を輝かせています。 We don't notice the torn clothes that we're wearing. 私たちが着ている破れた服には気づきません。 Our legs are covered with brown soil. 私たちの足は褐色土壌で覆われています。 We smile through our missing teeth. 私たちは欠けている歯を通して微笑みます。

2003. The photo of my past lies in my hands, with the edges torn. 私の過去の写真は私の手にあり、端が引き裂かれています。 It's brown with age. 年齢とともに茶色になります。 It doesn't shine in the light from the shop signpost above me. 私の上の店の道標からの光には照らされません。 I pass the photo to Okema, who sits next to me with his legs crossed. 足を組んで隣に座っているオケマに写真を渡します。 There are a lot of us here, sitting on the floor of the shop veranda. 店のベランダの床に座って、ここにはたくさんの人がいます。 A radio is playing loud music.

I'm trying to explain to Okema why I've travelled back to Gulu town to search for the girls in the photo. 写真に写っている女の子を探すためにグルの町に戻った理由をオケマに説明しようとしています。 We sit on the veranda because it's safer to spend the night in the town. The LRA rebels don't come to Gulu town; they only attack the villages. LRAの反政府勢力はグルの町に来ません。彼らは村を攻撃するだけです。 We talk quietly because we don't want to wake the other children, who are sleeping. Okema and I are kept awake by the fear of the night. オケマと私は夜の恐怖で目を覚ましている。 We talk to hold this fear back. 私たちはこの恐れを抑えるために話します。 In the distance we hear gunshots from time to time. 遠くでは時々銃声が聞こえます。

The faces in the photo are like strangers. I've been away too long. 私はあまりにも長い間離れていました。 I'm not sure they'll recognize me when we meet. I begin to get an empty feeling inside me. 私は自分の中に空虚な気持ちを感じ始めます。 Tears fill my eyes. Okema takes my hand and whispers, 'It's all right to cry.' オケマは私の手を取り、「泣いても大丈夫」とささやきます。

Our eyes meet. I smile. My finger trembles as I pick out the faces. 顔を拾うと指が震える。 Laker stands close to me in the photo. She and I were born on the same day. We were more like sisters than friends. We had such fun together! 一緒にとても楽しかったです! She was the leader of the group, and always had the craziest ideas. 彼女はグループのリーダーであり、常に最もクレイジーなアイデアを持っていました。 I wonder what she looks like now. 彼女は今どのように見えるのだろうか。 Perhaps she's tall and beautiful.

'Why did you leave Gulu?' Okema asks.

I am not sure how to answer. We leave places because we need to start a new life. I left because my grandfather, Won Okech, died. 祖父のウォン・オケッチが亡くなったので私は去りました。 I had lived in his house since my parents' death, and after his death there was no one to take care of me. Then my mother's cousin, min Komakech, appeared like a rain cloud and took me away to help with her children. それから、私の母のいとこ、ミン・コマケッチは雨雲のように見え、彼女の子供たちを助けるために私を連れ去りました。

'I don't know,' I lie. 「わからない」と嘘をつきます。 I quickly start talking about something else. 私はすぐに何か他のことについて話し始めます。 'How many children are left in your family?' 「あなたの家族には何人の子供が残っていますか?」

'I'm the last of them,' he says. 「私は彼らの最後です」と彼は言います。 'That's why my mother makes sure I come to town every evening.' 「そういうわけで、私の母は私が毎晩町に来ることを確認します。」

'I'm the only one in my family too,' I say. 「私も私の家族の中で唯一の人です」と私は言います。

We are two lonely stars. 私たちは2つの孤独な星です。

Sometimes I think this search is hopeless. 時々私はこの検索が絶望的だと思います。 So much has happened since I last saw my friends. 私が最後に友達に会って以来、たくさんのことが起こった。 Perhaps they have died or the rebels have taken them away. おそらく彼らは死んだか、反乱軍が彼らを連れ去ったのでしょう。 But I know I have to find Laker. しかし、私はレイカーズを見つけなければならないことを知っています。 I know she needs me. All I have is this old photo, which no one recognizes. 私が持っているのはこの古い写真だけで、誰も認識していません。 I spend my days under the sun, moving from place to place, but I get no answers. 私は太陽の下で場所を移動しながら日々を過ごしていますが、答えが得られません。

Okema is asleep. I'd like to sleep too, but I can't. Okema gives a frightened cry in his sleep. オケマは眠っている間に怯えた泣き声をあげる。 I know he has the same dream every night. In his dream the rebels attack his home and take him away from his mother. That's what happened to all his brothers and sisters. それが彼のすべての兄弟姉妹に起こったことです。 And as they take him away, he can hear his mother's screams. そして、彼らが彼を連れ去ると、彼は母親の悲鳴を聞くことができます。 He always wakes up then, and finds me staring at him. 彼はいつも目を覚まし、私が彼を見つめているのを見つけます。 I tell him that he's safe, and that the rebels are only a bad dream. 私は彼に、彼は無事であり、反逆者はただの悪い夢だと言います。 I pull him to me, put my arms around him and start singing quietly, 私は彼を私に引き寄せ、腕を彼の周りに置き、静かに歌い始めます、

Ten green bottles standing on the wall,

Ten green bottles standing on the wall,

If one green bottle should accidentally fall... 1本の緑色のボトルが誤って落下した場合...

Soon he stops crying and goes to sleep again. すぐに彼は泣き止み、再び眠りにつく。 I know he has slept on verandas in town for almost a year now, hiding from the rebels that attack the villages. 村を襲う反乱軍から身を隠して、彼が町のベランダでほぼ1年寝ていることを私は知っています。 When the sun rises, he'll run home to his mother, who'll send him off to school. 太陽が昇ると、彼は母親のところに逃げ込み、母親は彼を学校に送ります。 He's reading for his school-leaving examinations. 彼は学校を卒業するために本を読んでいます。

'I shall become President and end the war,' he says when he's feeling hopeful. 「私は大統領になり、戦争を終わらせるつもりです」と彼は希望を感じたときに言います。

'I want to see my mother smile again,' he says when he's feeling miserable. 「母がまた笑顔になるのを見たい」と悲惨な気持ちになっていると彼は言う。

I go on singing the nursery rhyme as I look at the photo. We are five of the ten green bottles on the wall. 私たちは壁にある10本の緑色のボトルのうちの5本です。 And if one green bottle should accidentally fall... Which of us fell first? そして、もし1本の緑色のボトルが誤って落ちた場合...私たちのどちらが最初に落ちましたか?

Gulu Hospital. I'm shaking with excitement. 興奮して震えています。 Laker is here. Someone guides me through the hospital, past patients lying on the floor. 誰かが私を病院に案内し、床に横たわっている患者を通り過ぎました。 There are flies everywhere. いたるところにハエがいます。 I pass a bed where a little girl lies, crying with pain. She has no legs. An older woman sits beside her and tries to keep off the flies. 年上の女性が彼女のそばに座って、ハエを避けようとします。

'A landmine,' the guide whispers to me. I stare straight ahead and try to walk faster.

When we reach Laker's bed, I see that she's asleep. We stand silently and wait. The smiling child in the photo has become this poor, sick woman. 写真の笑顔の子供は、このかわいそうな病気の女性になりました。 A torn blue blanket covers her body. The sheet on the bed is brown with dirt. ベッドのシートは茶色で汚れがあります。 I have waited four weeks for this moment. 私はこの瞬間を4週間待ちました。 I was hoping we would laugh and talk about old times together. I did not expect our meeting to be in a hospital.

I hold out my hand to touch her, but the guide stops me. 'She's still sleeping,' he says. I say nothing. I wait.

Suddenly Laker's eyes fly open. 突然レイカーズの目が開いた。 She stares at us, with no expression. I smile at her. She continues to stare at me. Her thin face frightens me. Her skin is oily and wet. The heat is awful. 暑さはひどいです。 Surely the blanket is too hot for her? 確かに毛布は彼女には暑すぎるのですか? I move closer. 近づきます。

'Laker,' I whisper, holding her thin hand. 「レイカーズ」私は彼女の細い手を握ってささやきます。 I don't think she remembers me. 'It's me, Atita,' I say. 'Won Okech's granddaughter, Atita.' I'm close to her, but I can't reach her. 私は彼女の近くにいますが、彼女に連絡することはできません。

She opens her mouth. 'Otoo. Won Okech otoo.'

She's right. Won Okech is dead. He died over ten years ago. No one could forget Won Okech. 誰もウォンオケッチを忘れることはできませんでした。 I remember once I told him about a game that we had played with some older boys. 私たちが何人かの年上の男の子と遊んだゲームについて彼に話したとき、私は覚えています。 We called it playing 'mummy and daddy'. 私たちはそれを「ミイラとパパ」と呼んだ。 When Won Okech heard that, he was very angry and beat the five of us girls very hard with his stick. ウォン・オケッチがそれを聞いたとき、彼は非常に怒っていて、私たち5人の女の子を棒で激しく殴りました。 We couldn't walk or sit for a week. My friends told me to keep my big mouth shut in future. 私の友達は、将来私の大きな口を閉じておくように私に言いました。 'Yes. Won Okech is dead,' I reply.

I want to know what happened to the others, but Laker still doesn't seem to recognize me. The guide tells me it's time to leave. I want to stay, but he won't let me. 私は留まりたいのですが、彼は私を許しません。 I bend down and whisper into Laker's ear, 'Laker, please remember Atita.'

That evening on the shop veranda, Okema asks, 'Did you and she talk together? Did she remember you?'

'No.'

'Don't worry, I remember you. Look, I kept a sleeping place for you on the veranda.'

'She said my Won Okech was dead.' 「彼女は私のウォンオケッチが死んだと言った。」

'So that means she remembers...' 「つまり、彼女は覚えている...」

'No,' I say coldly, 'she doesn't. I want her to remember me. I want her to remember Atita.'

'I'm sorry,' says Okema.

'Let's not talk about it.'

The other children are restless. 他の子供たちは落ち着きがありません。 Sometimes a figure passes by our veranda or a dog runs past. ベランダのそばを人物が通り過ぎたり、犬が通り過ぎたりすることがあります。 But most of the time the town square where we sit is empty. しかし、ほとんどの場合、私たちが座っている町の広場は空です。 The townspeople are locked up in their homes.

I stare ahead. 私は先を見つめます。 Laker doesn't remember me. レイカーズは私を覚えていません。 Laker doesn't remember Atita. Perhaps I have changed too much. I am a stranger to her. I am not the same Atita who she played with years ago. Time and distance have made us different people. 時間と距離は私たちを異なる人々にしました。 It's the price that we have to pay in the game called life. それは私たちが人生と呼ばれるゲームで支払わなければならない代償です。

I haven't found out why she's in Gulu Hospital. 彼女がなぜグル病院にいるのか私にはわかりません。 Perhaps a serious illness has made her forget everything.

It's raining now, and a strong wind blows. Loud thunder sends Okema running to me. 大きな雷がオケマを走らせてくれます。 I hold him close to me. What is he afraid of? 彼は何を恐れていますか? 'The rebels came when there was thunder,' he tells me later. 「雷が鳴ったときに反乱軍がやってきた」と彼は後で私に言った。 We stand because the veranda is so wet. ベランダがとても濡れているので私たちは立っています。

One of the children starts singing. 'Min latin do, tedo i dye wor... My mother is cooking at night.' 「ミンラテンド、テド私は染めます...私の母は夜に料理をしています。」 I join in, happily. It's a song that Laker and I used to sing when we were young.

Soon we are all singing. The night is cold and wet, but the song helps us feel warm, and we are safe in town away from the rebels.

In the morning it feels good to be still alive. As Okema and the others run home to get ready for school, I go to Gulu Hospital again. I can't take anything to give Laker. There isn't much food around and I have no more money.

Today, as I sit beside her bed, I hold her hands and repeatedly tell her, 'I'm Won Okech's Atita.'

'Otoo. Won Okech otoo,' she replies.

'Yes. Won Okech is dead,' I say.

She reaches out to feel my face. 彼女は私の顔を感じるために手を差し伸べます。 I hope that today she'll remember me. Her hands move over my face and stop at the scar under my chin. 彼女の手は私の顔の上を動き、私のあごの下の傷跡で止まります。 Is she remembering? 彼女は覚えていますか? I got that scar when I fell off a seesaw once.

Then she looks at my neck. She used to like the lines round my neck. 彼女は私の首の周りの線が好きだった。 She always said I didn't need to wear a necklace because I had a natural one. 彼女はいつも私がネックレスを持っていたのでネックレスをつける必要はないと言っていました。 She used to say to me, 'Atita, Atita, bangle-necked Atita.' 彼女は私に「アティタ、アティタ、バングルネックのアティタ」と言っていました。 If she says it now, I will know that she has remembered me.

I watch her face and wait, hoping and hoping for a smile, which will tell me that she knows me. 私は彼女の顔を見て、笑顔を期待して待っています。それは彼女が私を知っていることを教えてくれます。 Suddenly she pulls away from me. Her eyes are empty, without expression.

I want to sit here until she remembers me. I've learnt she was found lying in the street near the hospital. 彼女が病院の近くの通りに横たわっているのが見つかったのを私は知った。 No one knows her story, but it will be the usual one. 誰も彼女の話を知りませんが、それはいつもの話になります。 If she can remember the past and the good times, perhaps it will help her get better. She hasn't talked since she came here.

'Laker,' I call. No answer, nothing.

'I have something to show you,' I say.

I take out the photo and hold it before her eyes. 写真を取り出して彼女の目の前に持っていきます。 I hold my breath, hoping she will remember. She stares at it.

'Do you remember?'

I point to the faces.

'See, you're here in the photo. I am beside you. Atita. See, there are the others - Oyella, Adongping, Lamwaka.' ほら、他にもあります-オイエラ、アドンピン、ラムワカ。

I'm getting restless. 落ち着きがなくなってきました。 Perhaps Laker will never remember anything. おそらくレイカーズは何も覚えていないでしょう。 But I'm sure she can tell me about the others. しかし、彼女は他の人について私に話すことができると確信しています。 Five bright smiling faces in a photo... Five green bottles standing on a wall... Which of us fell first? 写真の5つの明るい笑顔...壁に立っている5つの緑色のボトル...私たちのどちらが最初に落ちましたか?

I come here every day. I have to help Laker. Each time I say Won Okech, she gives the same reply,

'Otoo. Won Okech otoo.'

'Yes. Won Okech otoo.' I repeat her words, but I'd like to tell her about my little friend, Okema, who wants to become President and end the war. No more sleeping on verandas to escape the rebels. 反逆者から逃れるためにベランダで寝る必要はもうありません。 A life when we can laugh and grow fat from being lazy. 怠惰から笑って太る人生。 Okema wants to make that happen. Okemaはそれを実現したいと考えています。