Friday 23 April 2021

Superb Flash Fiction Piece by Shashi Kadapa


Yazidi - Not a war, but a genocide

As I stared into the distant mirage, the harsh desert winds drove in sharp fierce waves, penetrating my clothes, eyes, and ears, the razor edge sand particles sought anything soft and pliable that they could cut.           

My name is Shiva. I am a doctor from Dharwad, India, and I work for the humanitarian organization Doctors without Borders. It was a hot, fiery August something 2014 and I was posted at this UN outpost, bordering Iraq, Syria and other outlands.

            The first few days were quiet, just a few soldiers suffering from heat stroke. Then a horde of people started trickling in, shredded by the desert, fleeing the harsh mountains, and the rapacious Taliban who were hunting them.

They were the Yazidi survivors. At that point, the world had no idea of these people or their ordeal.

Their eyes were blank, dead, and it was not from the desert heat. The eyes were of people who had endured unknown horrors. Most of them were women, girls, and children, gasping as they came across the security perimeter, staggering with fumes of a desperate spirit. Then they flopped down, pitiful whimpers seeped out of their parched throats.

            We quickly gave them water, dates, bowls of soup, and they nibbled at the food.

            A few could not move, and they lay lifeless. An orderly brought one of them into a tent. She was almost gone, eyes fluttering and body palpating.

            I reached out and she jerked awake, her parched throat crying out a warning, eyes and teeth bared to bite, nails clenched to gouge, the only weapons left. As I held her arm, she fluttered like a butterfly caught by a wing.

An interpreter shouted that I was a doctor, and she became quiet. It was like treating a wary and injured deer that does not know whom to trust.

            The feet were a blistered mass of flesh, embedded with sand and blood. I swabbed, poked with forceps, and she stoically bore the intense pain, not uttering a whimper, as she stared, starting to trust me.

She whispered “thank you doctor.”

“You speak English?”

“Yes doctor.”

“Good, what is your name dear?”


            She was scratching her neck, and I could see spots of blood as it seeped through the dirty dress. I coaxed her to sit still and slowly unpeeled the top partly to the top shoulders.

            Her neck was a mass of bruises, small puckered holes, slowly turning into pus.

             “How did you get these wounds?”

“From feeding my baby brother.”

“What? What do you mean?”

She broke down then, her thin body wracked by cries of past memories. I cleaned the wounds, sewing and dressing them, injected her, and soon we were done.

            She sat still looking at me with those liquid black eyes, then burst out crying.

“All of them are dead, killed, even my brother.”

“Okay Sanaz. I understand. Why don’t you wait outside? I have to treat some more patients.”

            After I finished with the other patients, my boss Col. Dr. Sara called me over.

“Shiva, that patient Sanaz. I did a full check-up. I was shocked by what I saw.”


“She has deep welts and scars on her back and thighs from repeated lashings and branding, she was repeatedly raped and abused. Her vagina and anus are torn, the same with other women. They are not fleeing a war, but genocide.”


“Yes. She is the only one who speaks English. Can you get her to talk? I will come with you.”

We went over to her tent, where she lay coiled, her knees drawn in to her stomach, in a protective foetal position.

“Sanaz, how are you feeling?”

She slowly uncoiled and sat up, briefly looking around with a hunted look.

“Please tell us about your brother? How did you get those injuries on the neck, and on your back?”

Her grief broke out, like a breached dam, and she muttered out her ghastly tale. The answers came out in a staccato, broken, often incomprehensible.

 “Doctor -- my brother -- fed from me -- drinks my blood to live.”

She continued now coherently, “The journey across the desert and mountains was endless. It was always one hill after another, one sun after another. We ate what we could, my brother could not. I forced him to bite into my neck and drink my blood.”

“From whom were you running?”

“From the Taliban slave traders and militants who raided our village. They forced all girls and women into sabaya, sex slaves. My father and brothers were shot in front of us. I ran away into the mountains with my brother, but a Taliban caught us. He raped me, and then I was passed on to others.”

She started sobbing and gasping and we let her quiet down.

“I was beaten, burnt and chained to a tree. Everyone raped me. Sometimes it was 10, often it was 20. I escaped one night with my brother and joined this group.”

She trembled and gasped, drawing her breaths in pants, then continued.

“My brother died on the journey”, she sobbed.

She looked at us, like a trustful lamb, the eyes black and liquid.

“You will not sell me or send me back?”

“Now do not worry Sanaz, this is a UN camp, we have armed soldiers here to protect you. You are safe.”

As the days passed, more victims came to us, narrating the horrors of war, and our camp grew.

I was very busy and saw her now and then. She was hardy, and would recover from her physical wounds. About the wounds on the psyche, yes, she would overcome them eventually.

I had begun to feel for her. The Yazdis are a race of beautiful, courageous, and noble people, with an indomitable spirit. It seemed that the torture had only made their will to live and fight much stronger.

I pray to god that this nightmare ends.

Based in Pune, India, Shashi Kadapa is the managing editor of ActiveMuse, a journal of literature. He is the 2021 International Fellow of the International Human Rights Foundation, NY. Thrice nominated for Pushcart Prize, he is a two-time award winner of the IHRAF, NY short story competition. Writing across various genres, his works have appeared or forthcoming in anthologies of Casagrande Press, Anthroposphere (Oxford Climate Review), Alien Dimensions #11, Agorist Writers, Escaped Ink, War Monkey, Carpathia Publishing, Sirens Call Publications, Samie Sands, Mitzi Szerto, and others. Please follow these links to review his works: 



1 comment:

  1. Really it's emotional and scary to know the life story of a woma woman. Let it remain a story nevertheless a reality. God save them and save the world by bringing up poor people in your safe hands.


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