Over a month has passed since Immaculée arrived in the bathroom. The killers keep coming back to Pastor Murinzi’s house, but they have not found the women. Every day brings worse and worse radio reports; when farmers begin to complain that their crops are dying from neglect, a government representative insists that they remain focused on killing Tutsis even if they must spend time in the fields. One day government soldiers give Pastor Murinzi a gun, which he is forced to accept in order not to look like a traitor. The UN evacuated its peacekeepers soon after the genocide began, although around 200 soldiers refused the order and remained. Their leader begs other countries to send troops into Rwanda, but none do so. The United States has not even acknowledged that the genocide is real.
Those responsible for the genocide have embraced death and destruction so much that they are basically encouraging people to neglect their crops in order to spend more time killing Tutsis. This instruction goes beyond all reason, and demonstrates the maniacal determination of the Hutu extremists’ embrace of murder. Rwanda has been turned into a hellscape, and this reality is so awful that the international community simply chooses to ignore it.
On the bright side, the RPF are still making advances through Rwanda. Sometimes the BBC plays messages of Paul Kagame telling Tutsis not to lose hope. Meanwhile, Pastor Murinzi is getting increasingly panicked about what he will do with the women, worrying that he is soon going to run out of food. One day he asks them to pray that the government forces win the war; Immaculée pretends to do so, but actually prays for the souls of the Tutsis who have been massacred. The pastor then reveals that after the war is over, there will be no Tutsis left. He plans to smuggle the women out to an island in the middle of Lake Kivu and marry them off to Abashi tribesmen. Immaculée and the other women are horrified, because they consider the Abashi to be primitive.
This passage reminds us that even if Immaculée achieves the impossible and survives the genocide, her future after would be uncertain at best, and potentially very bleak. Without the family, community, and infrastructure that enabled her happy and successful life before the genocide, she would be at the complete mercy of strangers. Furthermore, a post-genocide country would not instantly transform back into paradise, but would rather surely be rife with a whole new set of tensions and problems.
Although Pastor Murinzi clearly considers the women to be “orphans” with no family left on Earth, Immaculée does not feel that way because of her connection with God. She spends 15-20 hours a day praying, and now knows she’s been born again as “the loving daughter of God, my father.” As the genocide continues, Pastor Murinzi’s other children return home. Eventually the pastor can no longer bear to keep the secret of the Tutsi women alone, so he tells his two most trusted children, Lechim and Dusenge. When Lechim and Dusenge come to see the bathroom, they greet Immaculée warmly, which brings her solace. They return often, sometimes brining a cup of tea.
Both Immaculée’s intensive prayer and Pastor Murinzi’s confession to his children prove how much a burden can be eased by sharing it with others—whether one’s own children or God. Whereas Sembeba’s hatefulness and accusations served as an ominous sign about what might happen if Pastor Murinzi’s family found out about the women, in this passage it seems that Sembeba’s prejudice might make him the odd one out in his family.
In the middle of May, Pastor Murinzi brings two more Tutsi women into the bathroom named Malaba and Solange. Malaba is about the same age as Immaculée and Solange is a teenager; one of the pastor’s daughters, Marianne, had been secretly hiding them in her house in the north of the country. Because Marianne was known as being kind to Tutsis, it eventually became too dangerous for her to hide the women. She managed to get a fake identity card for Malaba listing her as Hutu, and sent both women off loaded with weapons.
Again, just as it seems that all hope has been lost, more acts of kindness, generosity, and self-sacrifice emerge to suggest that the world is not quite as bad as it previously appeared. Yet while the arrival of Malaba on Solange is on one level a joyous occasion, they are also making an already cramped, uncomfortable space even more full.
The women describe the horrors they witnessed on their journey, explaining that the killers were even murdering Hutus who forgot their identity cards or who opposed the killing of Tutsis. The women survived by screaming “Hutu Power! Kill all the cockroaches!” They explain that there are so many dead bodies strewn across the country that at first they thought the piles were trash or clothes, not corpses.
As Malaba and Solange’s stories reveal, surviving a genocide requires behaving in a way one would never have previously thought possible. When all semblance of normality fades away, it is easy for a person to become unrecognizable to themselves in order to survive.
That night, Immaculée sees Jesus in her sleep. He tells her that when she leaves the bathroom almost all her loved ones will be dead, but explains that her family is with him now. Immaculée wakes up happy, though over the course of the day she begins to feel sad about her family. Soon after, she overhears people talking outside about the death of a Tutsi man who had a master’s degree. The killers chopped his skull open, claiming they wanted to see what the brain of someone who had a master’s degree looked like. Immaculée realizes with horror that this was likely Damascene, and she prays that it wasn’t him. Later, she asks Pastor Murinzi if he has heard anyone talking about Damascene’s death; he says he hasn’t, but she can tell he’s lying. Immaculée cries hysterically, as the women around her silently beg her to stop. Eventually she does, and never cries in the bathroom again.
Immaculée is constantly oscillating between different states of emotion while in the bathroom. Within hours or even minutes, she can go from peaceful to devastated, stoic to hysterical. While the room in which she sits is claustrophobically small and unchanging, her psyche reflects the unknown turmoil of the world outside. Perhaps even worse than visualizing Damascene and other members of her family being killed is the fact that she cannot know for sure whether this has happened. As a result, Immaculée is left a wild mess of conflicting emotions.