Author(s): Ayik Chut Deng
In episode 1 of the Ray Martin fronted SBS series Look me in the eye two South Sudanese migrants now resident in Brisbane sat across from each other and looked into each other's eyes. One of them, Ayik, was once a ten-year-old boy soldier training in the junior forces of the SPLA and like many of the young boys hating it. He regularly ran away, sometimes to refugee camps, but was found, dragged bag and brutally punished by then fourteen-year-old Anyang, the man now sitting opposite him. After a tumultuous life in Africa, Ayik brings that trauma with him to Australia and at various times gets in trouble with the law over violence, alcohol and drugs. He is misdiagnosed as schizophrenic and is wrongly medicated for years. One day at a Brisbane church he looks across and sees his childhood torturer and is filled with hate. They do not interact then, but on their next encounter, a few years later, Ayik speaks with Anyang and says if they were still in Africa he would kill him. Thankfully a number of forces (including the law and parenthood and a better psychiatrist) eventually set Ayik on the straight and narrow. He is studying and working and hopes to be an actor. He has had small roles in films in Queensland including Thor - Ragnarok! An incredibly honest book showing that recovering from torture and war is a process of lifelong learning, choices and challenges.