You have to forgive me for being silent these past few months. I am sure you will understand I have good reason to be. It’s ironic, but that’s not why I have been quiet. Don’t worry, I haven’t been silenced by my cronies in Zimbabwe, nor have I been gagged by the Castro brothers or the worthless ministerial token from you know who. My ordeal was far worse, I imagine.
As a middle aged bigot, I remember very little, and of the recent past, I remember even less. Life for me came to a standstill and I had to rely on the media to feed me drips of socio-political history of the past seven weeks. It was in the news, for example, that I knew of the Olympics kick-starting a new war that engendered two new “sovereign” states. I couldn’t have chosen a better time for my memory to fail me. It was not really a case of temporary amnesia. I was simply out of this world, a vegetable, lying on some MRSA ambitious hospital while the world went on by.
Apparently, I missed the national crime statistics, which are apparently on the way down, except that the violent ones are sky-rocketing. Well, trust my luck! Even as I read about them in some dim witted newspapers, I had to confirm from not only my wife, but the disbelieving nurses and other medical specialists that took a keen interest in my return to normal health. The problem was; while I wanted to catch up with the world’s events, the hospital only wanted to get me out of their bed, to free up space for some more serious victim of a prolific crime culture.
So what really happened? We went out, as every normal couple would. A cinema here, a curry there, you know the drill. When you have spited your better half and you want to lay it out how you are sorry after you erred in your ways, nothing says it better than some sparkler of jewellery, a nibble or two and the pierce- de- resistance, the two-some to crown our joint efforts at reconciliation. I can tell you this; the film went down nicely, nothing like a chick flick to get a man on his partner’s good side; the curry, well, I wasn’t planning on frenching her until we had taken out all that after-smell with well intended fluoride – the feeling/taste was mutual; and I knew the cat was in the bag. Kerching!
Boy was I wrong!
We had just turned the corner on to the street behind ours- we thought it might be a tad more romantic to walk- when we saw some fishy looking characters on the other side of the road. Of course, it didn’t mean anything to us; we were on the other side, they were a good seventy meters ahead and even though they were laughing loudly and living it large even at my expense, I was happy to let them be. They had other plans! One of them crossed over; he was tall and swaggered like the night’s breeze was to brief for comfort. Glancing onto the other side and seeing the lad’s mates staring at him with depraved enthusiasm, I knew our erstwhile fairytale evening was about to be ruined.
My wife squeezed my hand, a sign that she was nervous about the lad. I responded likewise, she understood to be calm. As we got nearer, or as he approached us, I should say, I could see the lad was pretty young, too young in fact to be hanging about street corners that time of the night. I don’t imagine my nine year old child more than three feet away from his/her book or bed gone past ten o’clock at night.
“Hello mate, have you got a cigarette?”
First of all I felt like telling the child I did not smoke, that it was a filthy habit and he was too young and precious to be sending his life up in flame. But I didn’t. I felt like telling him he needed to go home promptly and apologise to his parents for staying out that late, but I didn’t. I also did tell him to stop hanging about with people twice his age and end up a drug addicted teenager with very little prospects for true redemption. There is a long list of things I actually felt like saying to the child, a life time lecture on self preservation and prudent ambitious planning. I did not, because my wife decided to speak up first.
“We don’t smoke. Sorry!”
Naivety is an epidemic, and at a national, if not international level. This boy did not really want a whiff of the silent killer. Nor did he want to know of our choices. This boy was out to get us. I mean, we see them all the time, at every turn outside every fish or corner shop. And we ignore them. For those of us living the 2.4 two-car family model with the occasional caravan to boot, we never have to encounter them. We drive past them, looking out from behind tinted non-bullet proof windows. But the fact remains; they still want of live our lives. They want everything we’ve got, and even more.
“Give us some money then.” It was the boy’s friend, who we had completely missed crossing over from behind us.
When I turned to see, the other youths crossed over shouting;
“What’s the problem Tiny?”
“Is this man harassing you?”
“Give him his money mate!”
“Show him the gun, Smokey!”
“Shut up you idiot!”
“You’ve killed him!”
“Gimme your wallet!”
“Hurry up sunshine!”
“Get well soon!”
“I love you!”
“Is he dead?”
“We miss you.”
Only now, lying on my bed do those truncated speeches make sense to me. And as the Olympics continued and the various countries lifted each trophy with joy, I smiled, knowing that at least, I am alive!
Even though I managed to write this entry a good two months ago, I am only just able to post it now. Please, forgive me. I know that this entry is truly out of date, at least, the crime statistics which we all took in our stride was completely and outrageously out!