Guest blog: Marcellin Gasana - a sister lost to violence
Marcellin (right) with his mother (left) and sister (centre)
GUIDANCE: The blog contains harrowing descriptions of violence which some readers may find upsetting.
Some stories are better untold.
The genocide in my country (Rwanda) affected the lives of many, and its legacy is still being felt 17 years later.
I had believed that I could one day get away from the experience. But; for me, the nightmare still continues.
I come from a humble family, fatherless, three brothers and my disabled mother who was seriously maimed during the 1994 genocide.
It was a large family, but when the genocide broke out, I lost two brothers and one sister - the only daughter in our family.
I still miss her so much.
How I survived - well, it would take ages for you to understand. But the story I want to tell now is about my sister, the way she was killed, and how the loss still affects me for the last 17 years.
The genocide broke out in the night of 6 April 1994, soon after the plane crash of the former Rwandan president.
On that day, my mother and I had paid a visit to my sister, Chantal. She was eight months pregant with twins.
A matter of days afterwards, her family were attacked and she was killed. An eyewintess - a 10-year-old boy that my sister used to teach at a local primary school - told me what happened from the beginning until her last second.
Only God knows why I accepted to listen to the boy.
I lost so many relatives and friends during the genocide, some of them were shot and others were stabbed to death right next to my hideout. Miraculously, I survived and learnt to live with the wound for 17 years now.
But my sister's death still haunts my sleep as if it happened yesterday.
She was pregnant and could barely walk. She was first dragged out of her hideout in the neighbourhood, and killers forced her to walk five miles to the slaughtering place.
When she got there, exhausted, seized by fear and waiting for the agony, one militiaman beat her to the womb with a gun.
She didn't say a word; she didn't scream or cry. She just bled.
They went on beating her until she prematurely delivered the little twin brothers. One of the killers grabbed them and cut them with a machete and threw them in a garbage container on the roadside.
My sister didn't die on the spot. After killing the babies, the murderers went on beating her.
All Tutsis (my ethnic group), including babies in their mothers' wombs, were considered accomplices of Rwandan rebels, the then-RPF, who had attacked Rwanda from Uganda.
My sister died after long hours of torture, and her body was thrown into a mass grave; a pit latrine. We never discovered it, so we never could exhume her body and those of her twin babies to offer them a decent burial.
The loss still affects me.
Since I heard about my sister's death, there's no single second that goes without me thinking of her. When I see her photos, I just imagine what she went through and I can't stop thinking of her every time I go to bed.
Yes, everyone loses someone, somehow, someday.
But the death of my sister is such a horrible loss which I had to share with you because I believe it's the only way that I'll eventually learn to positively live with it.