“Muna” – A short story

 

Hi friends! Welcome back to another “Story Friday!”

This story is of a young girl named Muna. I wrote this when I was about 16. I was interested in exploring the character of a child who is surviving in a war-torn country, and caring for her brother.

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MUNA

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Muna clung to her tiny brother, Akmad, seeking, with all the power in her weakened arms to protect the tiny child from the horrors of their once-dear home country. She silently cursed her Albanian ancestry and the Serbs that sought to take everything from her people. Already, Muna had lost so much. Her mother, her father, her home, and worst of all, her pride. The Serbs had stripped her of everything but life itself, leaving her only eyes with which to weep. The baby, Akmad, flinched in her arms as a troop of Serbs flew past, arms raised and screaming their frightful battle cry.

The one short year since his birth had not hardened Akmad toward the terrible truths of the world. The child’s dark eyes harbored none of the haunting fear that his sister’s carried. He was a jovial toddler, a bouncing boy shielded by the blessing of ignorance. Muna wrapped her frail, depleted arms even tighter around the boy and willed the world to be at peace. In all her eleven years, she had yet to experience even one week without clashes and conflicts between the government, Serbs, or Muslims. Her dark, solemn eyes held a sober maturity that never failed to startle even the most lighthearted onlooker.

She rearranged the thin quilt around Akmad and gazed pensively from within the cramped alley. Muna grimly set her jaw and pushed down her loathing of her own country. She cradled the child as a mother would, and sidled cautiously down the filthy street in the heart of Kosovo, bracing herself against the icy wind. Now it was deathly silent; the raiders had moved on with the goods they had stolen from defenseless people and abandoned buildings.

Muna recoiled vaguely when her mysteriously dark eyes fell on a woman sprawled on the street. The woman’s hair was matted with fresh blood. It seemed on the exterior that Muna had merely glanced at the body and looked away, as her slight reaction was perceptible only in her tightened grip around her wriggling brother. Her face gave away none of the emotion she felt inside, but inwardly the sight of the red liquid brought memories catapulting from the past into her mind.

She was only ten years old when it happened.

Her mother had just put Muna and Akmad – who was but a tiny newborn – into their makeshift beds and sang them a song. The lullaby was both haltingly lovely and mournful. Muna’s mother had been an exquisite Albanian woman with dark, serious eyes, and her possessing smile radiated such peace that Muna knew her mother was the most beautiful woman in Yugoslavia.

A sudden knock shook the door. Muna’s mother ushered them out of bed and swiftly into the moldy attic, hastily imploring her two children to remain still and silently hidden until she returned for them. Her mother hurried to the door, knowing that it was not her husband on the other side.

He had been missing for two days, and the family had wordlessly understood that they would never see him again. Suddenly a pair of government officials burst into the room, demanding money and threatening death. When they saw that Muna’s mother had nothing to give, they assaulted her verbally, then physically. She had withstood the attack in firm silence, but Muna could sense her mother’s noiseless, tortured screams. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut and prayed to every god whose name she could recall. At last, two gunshots ripped through the bitter air and suddenly the faceless, nameless soldiers were gone.

Long moments had passed, and a stifling hot silence permeated the tiny apartment. Muna waited, terrified. She cradled her whimpering brother and straining to hear sounds of her mother’s footsteps. She silently counted to the highest number she knew, and when that was done, she repeated every verse of the Koran that she had ever been forced to memorize. At last, when the silence was too much to bear, she ventured out with Akmad in her arms.

It was then that she had found her mother. The body was naked and bleeding from two bullet wounds in the torso.

That had been a year ago.

Muna, scarred by the image of her mother’s lifeless face, had been driven to the streets a month later when she had no way to pay rent for the tiny apartment. No amount of begging or pleading could have persuaded the rigid landlord to allow them to stay, not even when she had beseeched him in shame from her knees. No money, no Albanians.

On the streets, Muna was subjected to the harsh conditions. Hunger, cold, abuse. As a result of her traumatic existence, she withdrew into the recesses of her mind, rarely speaking, and even rarer still, smiling.

Weeks and months passed. Muna grew less like her vivacious self, and more like the thousands of hopeless, lifeless beggars on the streets of Kosovo. She could not remember the last time she had eaten, for she always gave Akmad the scraps of food she was able to gather. As a result, her own body and health dwindled.

With a worried glance at the sky, she noted that the sun would die within the hour. A pale expression of fear flitted across gaunt features as she pondered the thought that confronted her daily. Where will we sleep tonight?

Muna hoisted her brother onto a thin hip and began the slow trek. She grimaced at the prospect of yet another night on a cold doorstep or between battered buildings. Muna rummaged aimlessly through a pile of rubbish, and came away with a half-eaten chipolata. One sniff of the cold sausage renewed her sharp pangs of hunger. She wiped it and placed it gingerly in Akmad’s little, grasping fingers.

She rubbed his heavily blanketed back as he wolfed it down noisily. A wave of guilt struck her as the child looked up expectantly, his tiny hand outstretched for more. She shook her head sadly and gave his ruddy cheek an affectionate kiss. Akmad squirmed in frustration, but accepted her maternal embrace. He wrapped his short arms around her neck.

The sun passed dejectedly over the horizon, sinking into the distant land of Bosnia. Muna settled awkwardly against a tree stump with Akmad nestled in her lap. She sat still and unmoving, waiting for the child to drift off to sleep. Her heart, though a mere shadow of what it once was, still longed with the same fervor for a better life. She stared after the sun’s bleeding rays and wished for the land beyond the horizon, where she could live free.

She knew that somewhere beyond the blazing orb lay a land called Montenegro, where Albanians were left at peace. Muna’s numbed mind stirred at the thought of liberation. Her frozen consciousness groped desperately for it. As the relief of sleep flooded her senses, Muna’s last thought was of Montenegro, where she would one day flee – one arm clutching Akmad, the other grasping freedom.

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Check out my other stories & poems:

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Have you wondered what life must be like for children living in war-torn countries? Can you imagine caring for a baby in such an environment? 

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111 thoughts on ““Muna” – A short story

    1. Thank you Maureen! That’s so kind of you, I really appreciate that! I hope you have an amazing day! 😊

  1. This story is haunting, but sadly a reality for many. This is so well written, and it is impressive that you wrote this when you were only 16!

    1. Thank you Jen. Yes, it is so sad that this is the harsh reality for too many. I appreciate your dropping by, I hope you enjoy your weekend!

  2. Beautifully written. As a national of an ex-yugoslav country, I grew up hearing about these wars and ruined lives. The Kosovo war never reached my country, but the thought that it was happening right at the border of it is still as disturbing as it was back then when I was a child.

    1. I am sure you have an incredibly enriched worldview, having grown up where you did, with these conflicts happening just beyond your country’s borders. I appreciate your stopping by. I hope you have a wonderful day!

    1. Thank you. I agree – war wreaks havoc on innocent lives, it is so sad. Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  3. This is very powerful! Especially since it was written in a very young age. And it’s even more powerful cause in some places of the world right now it’s reality!

    1. It is so important to remember that some people are living this reality every day. Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have a nice weekend.

    1. That is so sweet of you. I really appreciate that! Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have an amazing weekend!

  4. I love the way you write. I am amazed you wrote this when you were 16. I would love to read more of your work.

  5. Beautifull written story that broke my heart to read. I can’t even imagine what that would be like to experience, but I know it is a reality for many.

    1. It really is such a heartbreaking story, and even more so knowing that it is the harsh reality for so many. I appreciate your stopping by Kassi. I hope you have a lovely day!

    1. Thank you Jeanna, that is so nice of you! I really appreciate it. I’m glad you stopped by, and I hope you have an amazing weekend! :)

    1. Thank you Heather, that is so kind. I appreciate your stopping by, and hope that you have an amazing weekend!

  6. This is a beautifully written story. Full of emotions. Something so sad and heartbreaking, and unfortunately a reality for many! But great writing, you really have a talent!

    1. Thank you Katherine, I so appreciate that. Yes it is incredibly sad to think that this is the reality for some. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

    1. Oh Amber, i know what you mean! The children affected by war just break my heart. Thanks for stopping by, i hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Hi Sally! Thank you for your kind words. I know what you mean, i feel very fortunate to have lived in places that have been relatively peaceful. Thanks and i hope you enjoy your weekend!

    1. Thank you, i really appreciate it. That would have been something, wouldn’t it. Thanks for stopping by, i hope you have a lovely weekend!

    1. Thank you Tony. I agree, it really is so sad. I appreciate your stopping by. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  7. Good plot. It’s so sad that this is the everyday reality of some people. At 16, you’re such a good writer

    1. Thank you, i appreciate that a lot. I agree, it’s heartbreaking to think this is real life for many. Thanks for stopping by, i hope you have a lovely day.

  8. You are a very talented writer, even from such a young age! It’s amazing how we can weave words into stories that transport us and evoke such emotions.

    1. Thank you for these kind words, Elizabeth. I appreciate your stopping by. I hope you have a wonderful day.

    1. Thank you for this lovely compliment. I appreciate it! Thanks for stopping by, i hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  9. Wow you were 16 when you wrote this! You are so amazing and you were so mature for your age. What a great read.

    1. Thank you for this lovely compliment. I appreciate your stopping by. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  10. My compliments on writing this when you were about sixteen, and for putting it out there for readers. I ran with the homeless in Philadelphia for many years and became close friends with a guy who told me about his life as a refugee. He was originally from the Ivory Coast and moved throughout Europe before settling in Great Britain, and later to the US. It’s a disgrace what this administration is doing to our great nation tightening laws allowing refugees, as if they ignore we were all refugees at one time. Keep writing.

    1. Thank you Jim. You have quite a story and sound so compassionate. I agree, i wish there was more compassion towards refugees, it’s truly sad. I really appreciate your stopping by. Have a lovely weekend!

    1. Thank you Lynette, i appreciate your lovely compliment and am glad you liked the story. I hope you have a wonderful day!

  11. You are such a gifted writer! I can’t believe you wrote this when you were 16!! So much talent. What a beautiful story.

  12. This story is so moving, and it’s heartbreaking as well because you know that it happens to war-torn countries even until today. It’s really tough to imagine how a child’s life is life or maybe it just hurts too much to try to imagine it.

    1. I agree Carol, its so hard to comprehend what life must be like for children affected by war. I really appreciate your stopping by, i hope you have a lovely day.

  13. No, I cannot imagine raising a child under such circumstances. Yet there are what, 21.3 million officially recognized refugees in the world today, part of the 65 million persons currently displaced from their homes? Your story does wonders to humanize their plight; *thank you*.

    1. Oh Flossie, my heart goes out to the millions of refugees and those displaced. I’m grateful that you took the time to stop by and read this story. I hope your week goes well.

  14. What a beautifully written and heart breaking story. I am so glade that you can use your gift to let others know the evil and sadness in this work. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you Ophelia, i appreciate your words. Thanks for taking the time to read. I hope you have an amazing week.

    1. Thank you Aishwarya. This is very nice of you. Thank you for dropping by, i hope your Monday is going well so far.

  15. You have such a wonderful way of telling stories, I am impressed with the way you put words together. WOW you were so young when you wrote this.

    1. Thank you Andrea, that’s so lovely of you. I appreciate your taking the time to read. I hope your week is off to a great start.

  16. I almost cried. This is a picture of war zone victims. They have no choice but to leave home and move on if they are lucky enough to survive.

    1. That’s true Hannah, and unfortunate its life for too many. So sad. Thanks for reading, i appreciate your stopping by. Have a lovely day.

  17. Your words are so beautiful it was like feeling her pain. You are very talented. I would love to know the rest of the story

    1. Thank you, that is such a lovely compliment. I appreciate your stopping by. I hope you have a wonderful day.

    1. Thank you Cristina, i appreciate this nice compliment, and your dropping by to read. I hope your day is amazing.

  18. I look at child refugees fleeing Syria and other countries in the wake of war or other catastrophes and I see lost innocence, and confusion peering from eyes now bleak. This could be their story. This is the story of any of these orphans who struggle to survive when hey have lost everything and is suddenly plunged into an adult world forced into adult games for which they are not yet ready. You had a writer’s sensitivity from that tender age .

    1. Oh Ingrid, that look of bleak detachment in the eyes if child refugees is so heartbreaking. They have seen and experienced far more at their young ages than most adults will ever see. I really appreciate your taking the time to stop by and read. I hope you are having a lovely week.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read my story, Keri, I appreciate it! I hope you have an amazing day!

  19. Such a touching story. It really reminded me how lucky I am to live a a free country without war and the opportunity to be all I can be. I hope this is only a fictional story.

    1. I hear you. We really are so fortunate to live in a country with freedom and relative peace. I appreciate your stopping by and reading, Leo, I hope you have an amazing day.

  20. This story is beautifully written with such raw emotions. The sad thing about this story is it is so many young girls real life today. Thanks for sharing this story and awareness too.

    1. Thank you for such a lovely compliment, i really appreciate it. Yes, so sad that this is reality for so many. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read. I hope you have a wonderful day.

    1. Thank you Patranila, I appreciate this lovely compliment. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read. I hope you have a wonderful day.

    1. I appreciate that, Suzanne! Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read. I hope you have a wonderful day!

  21. I can’t believe you wrote this! It’s very well written, and you need to start writing for a living!

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