Violence in…

Tears of the Desert

A Memoir of Survival in Darfur

By: Halima Bashir with Damien Lewis

Part One: Child of the Desert

Chapter One: The Naming

Pg. 4-5: Bashir recounts some of the details of her rape and assault but none of the circumstances; we get the idea that she was attacked due to speaking out to some people in the media. She was stabbed and raped, that’s all that’s mentioned here.

Pg. 8: Bashir’s father fell off his camel and injured himself and the people in the village wanted to bleed him.

Pg. 10: Bashir first mentions her tribe’s tradition of cutting to identify members of their tribe, also they believe the more scarring a boy endures the more fierce a warrior he’ll be, which is very important to the Zaghawa tribe because they are a warrior people.

Pg. 11-12: Grandma Sumah brandishes a knife at her estranged husband, when he tries to make amends she just sits there testing the edge of the knife on her own arm  

Chapter Two: Grandma’s Trip to the Lost Valley

Pg 13-14: Bashir notes upon her Grandma Sumah’s facial scarring which is two deep “glasses” cuts on her temples and a mass on tiny cuts on the left side of her face signifying the Coube clan

Pg. 23: Bashir remarks after running from the Lost Valley that if Grandma Sumah hasn’t needed her and Kadiga in good physical condition she would have beaten them for running and leaving the bundles of firewood

Chapter Three: Moon-Bone Madness

Pg. 30-31: Mo is beaten up and has his plane stolen from him from a group of four boys, Grandma Sumah and Halima went to the boys’ house and beat them. It was looked on as a “good  fight.”

Pg. 33: Bashir mentions that the speed and skill at fighting are the most important when winning the Moon-Bone game, which she excelled at.

Pg. 35: After drinking at Kadiga’s house her mother beats her and then when she runs off to her Grandma her Grandma beats her worse.

Pg.36-38: When her Grandma attempts to give her the traditional Zaghawa cuttings she runs and then fights like a wild animal when her mother attempts to hold her down she fights like a wild animal. Then her Grandma got a friend to help hold her down, but Halima was fighting too hard, the friend said she was “like a madwoman” and let her go. The cutting was never completed.

Chapter Four: Mo, Omer, and Me

Pg. 43-45: From a very young age Omer would pick fights with other village children often making them cry, of which Grandma was very proud. Bashir also goes into the play fighting that the children would engage in that her and Omer excelled at.

Pg. 46: After admitting to having the rows that were double planted, which was actually Halima’s fault, Omer was beaten by Grandma.

Pg. 48: Omer tracked down the grandchildren of the man who killed the leopard and beats them to prove a point.

Pg. 50: Some Arabs attacked the family’s animals and the cowboy they employed and left him bloody with his clothes torn.

Chapter Five: The Cutting Time

Pg. 56-57: Halima is circumcised while the large woman held her down.

Pg. 59: Halima beats a girl who teased her for crying out during her cutting time.

Part Two: School of the Desert

Chapter Six: School Days

Pg. 70: Halima and Mona are cracked in the head with the big stick of their headmistress for speaking Zaghawa.

Pg. 71: Halima is punished with a beating every time she is late to class and tries to shirk punishment by pretending not to be late by mingling in with the other girls at eleven o’ clock break.

Pg.72: If you had any dirt on you during inspection in the morning the Headmistress would give you a crack from her stick.

Pg. 74: Halima is lashed out at by the Headmistress for not standing in line correctly by the Headmistress during assembly.

Pg. 76-77: Halima is grabbed by the scruff of her neck and shoved across the room by Miss Ursah when she refuses to clean the other girl (Sairah)’s half of the room. Miss Ursah then beats her bare legs with a broom, when Halima tries escapes she hits the desk with her thigh.

Chapter Seven: Fight School

Pg. 83: When Grandma Sumah discovers that Halima had her hair braided in Bob Marley style she grabs and twists a piece of flesh on her stomach

Pg. 89: When trying to get to her desk Halima is hit in the knees by Sairah’s legs and Halima pushes her back and tells her if she wants to fight they can after school on Thursday under the big tree.

Pg. 91-92: Halima and Sairah get into a fight under the big tree, Sairah starts in by ripping Halima’s shirt and attacking her but Halima finishes it by beating her and choking her, however she decides that Sairah doesn’t deserve to die and lets her go.

Chapter Eight: Resistance for Grandma

*They discuss the fight in depth at the beginning of this chapter but there is no further acts of violence at this point*

Pg. 98-99: An Arab girls shoves by Halima and Mona who in turn pelt her with clods of dirt until she runs away. They, along with four other girls, are beaten the next day in school.

Chapter Nine: The White Eyelash Attack

Pg. 108: Mo and Omer are beaten for scribbling and drawing rude pictures in Halima’s notebooks out of jealousy for the attention their father paid to her.

Pg. 109: Mo holds Halima down while Omer uses a big carving knife to cut the white eyelash out of her eye so they would all be equal and Halima would no longer have the advantage.

Pg. 116: A man beats Halima, Mo, and Omer after they attempt to steal food from his farm and he is unable to get Grandma Sumah to show herself and admit to being behind it.

Chapter Ten: Cousins in Love

Pg. 124-125: A black man and an Arab man get into a fight at the market over race and the war that was being fought because of it, then the police arrive and beat the black man further with no questions asked about the nature of the fight or who was to blame, they then drag the bruised and

bloodied black man off with them.

\Pg. 125: Grandma Sumah, Halima, Mo, and Omer watch a program on TV that portrays the Jihad as good and holy, it is very bloody and violent and Halima’s father becomes angry that they are watching it, turns the TV off, and proceeds to set them all straight.

Chapter Eleven: Dream to Be

Pg.131: Halima’s Grandpa and several of her uncles die in a in a battle in the Chadian desert.

Part Three: Desert of Fire

Chapter Twelve: Med School

There is no violence in this chapter.

Chapter Thirteen: University of Jihad

There is no violence in this chapter.

Chapter Fourteen: Rumors of War

There is no violence in this chapter.

Chapter Fifteen: Medicine Woman

Pg. 174: A woman’s village is attacked by the Arabs.

Pg 178: Halima treats both the victims and the perpetrators of the violence spreading across Darfur.

Chapter Sixteen: Accident and Emergency

Pg. 179-181: Halima treats victims of the Darfuri conflict from her position in the hospital, it starts out with only a few victims but then when word spreads the number increases drastically.

Pg. 185-187: Halima is picked up by the secret police who verbally berate her and force her to sign a piece of paper saying that she won’t ever speak out again.

Chapter Seventeen: Mission to Mazkahabad

There is no violence in this chapter

Chapter Eighteen: Rebel Doctor

Pg. 203: A young man who has been injured in the fighting is treated by Halima.

Pg. 204: Halima begins to treat injured rebel soldiers

Pg. 209- 210: A stream of parents come to the clinic with their raped daughters for Halima to treat, along with a teacher who was attacked.

Chapter Nineteen: Black Dogs and Slaves

Pg. 211-221: A school was attacked by the Janjaweed, they beat and raped every little girl brutally so they all needed stitched up, as well as attacking and raping the teacher.

Chapter Twenty: They Come for Me

Pg. 223-227: Halima is brutally beaten and then gang raped after being picked up by the secret police again. She wishes that they would kill her but they leave her alive because they know she feel this way. It is horribly graphic and terrible.

Chapter Twenty-One: A Long Distance Wedding

There is no violence in this chapter.

Chapter Twenty-Two: The Devil Horsemen

Pg. 239-244: The village is attacked and Halima’s father is killed along with most of the men in the village, Mo and Omer wanted to stay but they were sent from the village by their father. Halima, her mother, sister, and two brothers escaped from the village into some nearby woods with most of the women children and elderly from the village.

Chapter Twenty-Three: A Time of Fear

Pg. 252: Helicopters circle over the ruins of the village firing and destroying any building that wasn’t already destroyed.

Part Four: Desert of No Return

Chapter Twenty-Four: Escape from Darfur

There is no violence in this chapter.

Chapter Twenty-Five: The Hostel of Despair

There is no violence in this chapter.

Chapter Twenty-Six: In London, In Love

There is no violence in this chapter.

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Breaking the Silence

There is no violence in this chapter.

Chapter Twenty-Eight: Will to Live

There is no violence in this chapter.

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2 Responses to Violence

  1. Domingos Armando Cussumua says:

    Há um ano meio, me deparrei com um livro numa feira promovida pela livraria africana no nosso maior shopping em Angola( Belas Shopping), cujo título é: “Lagrimas de Darfur”. li este livro em pouquissimos dias por que a historia contida neste livro nos prende e não só. como angola sei o é sentir viver e ao mesmo tempo sentir os horrores da guerra. Porém a história de Halima tem as suas espeficidades que não adianta mencioná-las aqui. De facto, me identifiquuei bastante com historia desta mulher que nasceu numa aldeia africana, no sul do Sudao como é óbvio, talvez por essa razão, por que afinal de contas também nasci numa aldeia no interior de Angola. Eu lagrimei, quando cheguei no capítulo da violação sexual, tanto para as crinças, professoras e principalmente a médica da comunidade. Como os seres humanos são capezes de comportamentos tão vil? A terminar, espero que o tribunal internacional faça tudo no sentido de culpabilizar e condenar todos os rensponsáveis deste terrível genócidio de Darfur em pouco tempo. Portanto, quem quiser saber mais sobre esta mulher aconselho-lhe a ler o livro. Lembre-se que ao fazé-lo estarás a contribuir ás vítimas de Darfur.

    • Megan M. says:

      Agradecimentos para seu comentário. Meus estudantes estão lendo este livro para a classe, e cada estudante teve que tomar notas em um aspecto diferente da cultura. Nós apenas falamos sobre este na classe hoje, de facto!

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