house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Oh News

Back in Portugal, I sometimes parked the car against a wall covered in graffiti. One message said: 'I watch the news on TV and get very, very scared'. It made me nod and glance away to a mustard-green meadow that engulfed the ruins of a house. We didn't have television but I thought I knew what they meant.

It's different here. The daily paper waits on the car bonnet in the morning and there's no meadow where the gaze might hide. The news is a relentless march of horrors.

There's a story about a family in Lahore and their maid. They accused her of theft, made a huge fuss. Her mother arrived from some faraway village, trying to sort things out, or just to see her. The masters did not permit this and the woman waited - for news, for her daughter, for mercy, who knows? - she just waited for things to calm down. And while the mother was waiting, the family tied the maid up and beat her with a plastic hose - why? who knows why? - until her cries stopped and her eyes closed and she moved no more. Then they took the maid to the hospital. Again, why? She was already dead. She was ten years old.

And today there's a story about a 15-year old schoolboy who was late from school one morning.. Assembly had started and, at the school gate, this boy met a young man with a belt of explosives, walking purposefully towards the gathered students and teachers. The boy stepped forward and hugged the bomber. Seconds later the explosion, birds fluttering in panic, two thousand young faces turning from assembly to see the cloud at their school gates - smoke and sorrow, fear and frustration, martyr and murderer, and no, and yes, and gone.

What do I do with these stories? What do we do with the memory of these children? The world changes, but so very, very slowly. I wonder if the graffiti in Portugal has faded out by now.


At 16 January 2014 at 17:13 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was thinking of you all when the story of the boy and the bomber broke here. Things change very slowly indeed. C


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