A mother disappeared - Aster Fissehatsion's son reflects

Aster Fissehatsion has been missing for 14 years. She was arrested in 2001 after signing an open letter calling for democratic reforms. Here her son Ibrahim Mahmoud Ahmed Sherifo talks of the years without his mother and his continued hope that he will see her again.

Waiting for my parents

I thought the separation from my parents was only going to be temporary. I remember the waiting as days turned to weeks, weeks to months, then years; literally, it felt as If I grew into a young man while waiting.

I had to leave Eritrea in 2010 when the waiting drained me of all my energy. At times I did not know what to think, how to behave as I waited for the long overdue reunion with my parents. Although I felt let down, I learned to let go of the life that my parents planned for me so as to accept the one I was left with – discard the life filled with waiting and embark on what the future had in store for me.

In exile every day I remind myself that I am the proud son of two veteran fighters of the Eritrean Revolution - Aster Fissehatsion, my sweet mother, and Mahmoud Ahmed Sherifo, my rock solid father. Both of my parents were former freedom fighters but now prisoners of conscience. They were taken on 18 Sep 2001 while everyone was looking the other way; they've been disappeared since then.

In my new life in exile I seek means to help me cope with the memory of my parents – dwelling in their memory helps me in my day-to-day life. Every morning I wake up with a remote hope that today will be the day I may receive good news that both of my parents are still alive somewhere in a hidden alive cell in Eritrea. Sometimes I even dare to dream of their release.

I have waited for long time to see my parents. Waiting kills; I prefer remembering. I keep myself going by giving myself nudges that one day I will have a meal with them; just one meal! I hope that this wait of 14 years will come to an end tomorrow.

As it turns out, my early morning optimism dissipates during the course of the day and the wait is further extended. Every evening I go to bed with the knowledge that tomorrow will be a new day; and new days are renowned to bring new hopes with them. That my cyclic life – a life in a cycle of hope!

Although it is painful to live a life dictated by waiting, I still make effort to put my feelings about not being with my parents, not being able to be there for them aside. However, I still wear the fabric they wove with feats of bravery while they were freedom fighters. That very fabric become the garment of my inner soul.

Even in the midst of series of disappointments, I do not give up my belief that one day a daring day will come about to set them free. That will be the day we will be able to gather around a dinner table to have a meal together.

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