My name is Zula Diallo. I am 15 years old and live in Brooklyn, new york. I live with my mother, her real name is Charlotte. I used to call my real mother mama, because that means mother in Swahili. Swahili is what we used to speak when I lived in Rama, but that was a completely different time.
My real Mama gave birth to me in 1998, during the Eritrean–Ethiopian War. We were right in the middle of it, and in 1999, when I was one, we fled. We fled first from Rama, Ethiopia, where we lived, to Yeha, then to Enticho, and through all that, my mother had not named me. The reason I know all of this, is because my mother wrote a diary of our journey, and now I have it. Anyway, from Enticho, we went all the way to a place called Zulu, which took 2 and a half days. That is where my Mother got the idea for my name. My name was to be Zula, Zula Zoya Diallo, which is one of the only things I like about myself. It has a nice ring to it, and makes people picture me as a smart, pretty girl, which is the opposite of who I am. We stayed in Zulu for about a month and a half, then migrated across the water to an Isthmus, and from there we went across the red sea and landed in Saudi Arabia. There, we made our way to Turkey then to Greece, then to Italy. From Italy to a small island to the south-east of France, and from there to Spain. We then traveled through Portugal, and across the north Atlantic ocean, headed for America. that all took about two years, and we were now in the 2000s. I was 3. We settled into Boston for about a year, then headed for Brooklyn, New York. There we settled down in a small apartment. We were not the richest, but we managed. Day by day we tried to strive as poor and unhappy people that could barely pay the rent, until my mama got a well paying job as a waitress, and we settled into city life.
It had been about 10 years since my mama and I had moved into our apartment. It was 2007 and I was 9 years old. When I first started going to school, I expected people to bully me and treat me with little respect because I was from a different country, but I was wrong. I had a good life at my new school and made plenty of friends. I was used to the fact that some people are to be avoided and some to pay attention to, and I had plenty of friends.
As I walked home from school on one particular day, I was with my friends Olivia and Oliver. We walked to the nearby diner down the road, the green bouquet, which was around the block from my house. Though it was all blurry for the rest of that year, now, I seem to remember every moment of that day, as if a foggy mirror had just been cleared right in front of my eyes. I remember what food I ordered. A hot dog and a shamrock shake. I remember that We talked and caught up on homework for an hour. I remember throwing away my cup and hearing the wailing sirens, I was used to that and didn’t react until I saw the ambulance and red and blue lights. Flashing on. And off. And on. And off. All the rest was really all a blur. Dragging my feet home. Flashing lights around my house. A fire. A crowd. Crying. A stretcher with my mama in it. A grieving death. Crying. A funeral. Crying. A police station. A foster home. Crying, crying, crying. Even though everyone was sweet and kind to me, Even though I was adopted by a great person, Even though she was sweet, loving, and understanding. all I could think about was that she was gone. That I would never see my mama again. And I was only 13, then 14, now 15. And even though my new mother kept saying, its okay, she is always with you, With a bittersweet smile. Somehow, someway, and for some reason that made it worse.