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African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle


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For Howard
August 6, 2011, 1:01 pm

 

Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing this letter in recognition of the life of a young man.

I first met him when he was just a few months old. Warm and safe he was snuggled up against his mother’s back, held tightly in place with a warm, bright wrap. He didn’t wake up when I stroked his fat little cheek, but his mother glowed with pride. The next time I saw the baby he was a chubby little toddler, perhaps nineteen months old. Giggling and chuckling he was into everything and trustingly took my hand when I held it out to him, his sticky little fingers dwarfed in mine

Then came those glorious years before life gets serious, before school and learning starts and when the world is a child’s playground. How clearly I remember the adventures that little boy and his friends had. Riding in the back of the truck when we went to put food out for sheep and cattle; jogging around in the back of the ox drawn cart when we were bringing poles and firewood back from the timber plantations; catching tadpoles and crabs in the shallow water of the stream; running with leafy sticks herding cattle from one paddock to another. The treat of the day was a sweet, sticky bun and a frozen cold drink to suck noisily from a plastic tube. Lying on the carpet watching cartoons on TV, playing with dinky cars in the sand, digging tunnels and climbing trees.

Then came school and it wasn’t easy. Conditions were tough, education was primitive, equipment and facilities almost non existent. Throughout the boy’s school years I followed his progress, helping his parents with school uniforms, shoes, books, pens, pencils and crayons and the never ending school fees. Later came sports kit, exam fees and more pens, books and calculators and then he was a teenager.

I last saw the young man about five months ago. He strode up to greet me, his eyes shining and face beaming in smiles. His huge hand shook mine, my fingers dwarfed in his. His mother watched the meeting, her face glowing with pride, just as it had when she first showed me her baby nineteen years ago. The young man and I laughed and chatted and the pride of his parents was palpable. We parted on such happy terms, smiling and waving; a picture that will stay in mind always.

On a cool and still evening this week, I stood outside looking out over the African bush. The sun had gone and a bronze glow lay on the horizon. A bat flitted in and out of sight, catching invisible insects. A call came on my cell phone and tears ran down my face as I listened to the tragic news of the violent end that had come to the young man. In the background I could hear the mourners gathering: singing, clapping, drumming, wailing

This letter is for Howard, in recognition and memory. May his soul rest in peace. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy 



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