When writing fiction becomes the reality

“The plastic bag was white, and a contrast to the red blood from the torn feet

  Writing is recreating images of situations I have experienced, words I have captured or people I have met. One of the pictures I will never forget was of a refugee woman carrying her child in a dirty sling in an endless column of refugees. She had plastic bags on her feet, a kind of illusory protection against the hot sand. The plastic bag was white, and the sharp contrast to the red blood from the torn feet struck me when I saw her.

Another image I will always carry is the outstretched arms of a three-year-old Tutsi boy who, along with a dozen other kids, sought help at the roadside along the main road towards Kigali in Rwanda, while the UN vehicles drove past at high speed. I noticed the soldiers’ stiff eyes – they saw but did not want to see. There were too many kids. Sometimes I wonder how these soldiers are doing today.

While working on Delete’s research, I came across a number of Senate hearings on the Rwanda massacres. The atrocities outlined shocked me and made me start searching for more information about the events that led to between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people being killed in the most bestial ways during a few short spring months in 1994. It amazed me. me that the media had almost in silence ignored the tragedies that unfolded in the small country.

The numbers from such disasters are always large, and one is therefore always in danger of being “saturated”. Still, some numbers touched me more than others. Among other things, I registered that just after the massacres, there were more than 100,000 children on a walk in Rwanda. Hiking meant that two-, three- and four-year-olds went alone – without relatives or older siblings who could take care of them.

Eventually, the children were gathered and – where relatives were alive – reunited with theirs or otherwise cared for. Nevertheless, there are a dark number of about 15,000 children who were not accounted for. 15,000 children have disappeared. The only thing we know is that these certainly did not die during the massacres.


Unfortunately, fiction is becoming a smaller and smaller part of what I need to write. Unfortunately, I write because I wish I could have been without the knowledge of all the cruel actions we humans expose each other to every day, every hour and every minute – worldwide. Now the same thing is happening in Ukraine, and before that, Syria and before that … you know what I mean.

Wishing you a quiet and peaceful week.

Knut Braa

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