Children; not the same the world over
edited: Tuesday, March 29, 2005
By Paul Tonks
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2005
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The following is a small passage I wrote under a tree whilst serving in Sierra Leone. It was written following a real incident which touched the heart of a man of war.
Kids; not the same the world over.
I sat beneath a stalwart of a tree; weathered by time, it had defied the relentless onslaught of the extreme elemental conditions. A trunk scarred by hatchet and flint remained motionless; a silent observer of passing generations and the vicious conflicts of man. The cooling shade its vast canopy provided was a welcome break from the blistering sun. With such moisture sapping heat a daily occurrence, good shade and a refreshing breeze were all the luxury this land had to offer.
The village’s inhabitants had welcomed my partner and I with open arms and extended what little they had to offer to their unexpected guests. A communal hut of wood and mud was made available to ensure we were as comfortable as possible during our short stay. Food and drink were provided throughout our stay and nothing was asked in return. From a people struggling to survive such hospitality touched the soul; an indication though outwardly a broken nation they still held an honour and kindness not observed in the western world.
Close to our hut the village folk were housed in similar structures to the one we had been allocated. Our arrival soon attracted much attention from curious children and their mothers. It was rare for them to receive visitors so far out in the jungle; they were close to the country’s northern border and hundreds of miles from its capital and as such forgotten and neglected. If visitors were rare, white visitors were even rarer. One of the more brazen women ventured over, she moved back and forth drawing closer each time, desperate to spark conversation with these men of a strange tongue. Little could be understood between this small party of three nations, but soon through our interrupters efforts the woman’s offers were soon clarified and just as quickly declined.
The children remained persistent, finding our presence far too unique to ignore. Though our words were alien to them they called, and often, though their distance was maintained. Cries of, ‘Porto, Porto,’ (the local call for white man, an historical reference to the Portuguese explorers who had been the first white men to arrive on their shores) broke the silence throughout the day; so often was the cry heard it began to grate on ones nerve.
A small girl, no older than five grew into the shrieking offender of most bearing. She called and called and though anxious to meet us did not dare to move closer. Finally following hours of relentless calling the child was coaxed by a native woman to accompany her; face her fears and meet with these odd, ‘Porto’s’.’ Now stood before us the small child extended her arm and an offering was presented. Such an unexpected yet touching gesture; to be presented the rarest of gifts in a place without supermarkets, without corner shops or the trappings of western culture; her gift, a lollypop.
The Mapping of Markesh
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|Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan
|a very touching story, well written|
|Reviewed by Maureen Brown (Reader)
|Certainly makes you think!|
|Reviewed by Betty Torain
|Thanks for your article Paul. You are so right, the environment plays a great part in one's behavior but, human needs are universal. Keep sharing.|
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|thought provoking read|
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|interesting write, paul; well done! thanks for sharing!
(((HUGS))) and love, your tx. friend, karen lynn. :D