I did not want the recognition but they said it was to honor a lifetime of achievement. The people from my village said I should accept it. That it was something I deserved. That it was about me and not what they had done over the years. They said things had changed. They dressed me in a suit and had me stand with my hands folded to the front. I waited until the president arrived. He was typical in his far-reaching hypocrisy, insincere like most of them. Like the ones that made a name for themselves and kept their pockets thick for the sake of their insecurities and overreaching need for power and ambition. I was kept waiting in the room for longer than necessary. Just like they used to do before interrogations.
I didn’t stick my hand out to shake his, but he grabbed my arm quickly and shook it thoroughly to avoid any sign of an awkward altercation. The cameras lights flickered, and I was briefly blinded. He pointed to a seat and asked me the standard range of polite questions and left before long. I decided not to answer questions asked by the media, citing fatigue.
I never really met the president that day. I met a ghost, a shadow of men who represented the cause of our struggles over the decades. He decided to bestow upon me something long after there was nothing left to take from us.