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The Boots

Gun shots were heard, then came the banging on the doors of our village. There was screaming and shouting everywhere. It had started. My country had chosen to be divided on such a lovely warm, sunny spring day. Nature was ready to explode, green buds slowly creeping out of their branches, flowers popping up in the fields, the sunlight lasting a little longer each evening. Such a day would be good for fishing, cycling or playing football. Yesterday, people from both sides worked together, respecting each other’s religion and ethnic background. Children played together and went to the same schools, meals were shared, the same football team supported, but today we have created hatred for many generations to come.

Mother quickly pushed me under the coffee table in the living room. It was narrow, hardly big enough to hide a nine year old boy. The table was covered with an embroidered cloth which mother had spent many evenings stitching near the fire while I read out loud from the ‘The Jungle Book’. Father would correct my English and made me pronounce the words correctly.

Outside our house, there was chaos. I could only hear the clock ticking in the living room. The fear inside me was the same as sitting in an exam room with sweaty hands and that feeling of nausea. I peeped through the drapes of the table cloth; the piano stood proudly near the window. Many children from the village had been taught by my mother.The wooden floor looked huge from where I was hiding. The floor boards were never level and liked to squeak.

Finally, the unavoidable happened, the banging was on our door. It was so loud that it made me jump. Father quickly moved towards the door. His finger was on his lips and he told me to stay hidden. The door was pushed open, the sun crept into our living room, tiny dust particles were floating in the sunlight. Heavy boots tramped in, the kind that soldiers wore. The well polished boots were so shiny,  they almost gave me away through reflection. The smell of shoe polish was so strong that it made me sick. Marks of mud were on the floor, carried in by those boots. ‘Mum will have to mop it up after they leave’, I thought. There was a particular boot that caught my eye. I recognised the ‘Arsenal’ socks that pulled up above the knee. A leaf was stuck under the boot. ‘He supports the same team as I do. Surely he will not hurt us’, I thought.

The floorboard squeaked when he walked past. He walked back and stood in front of my table. I thought my heart was going to jump out of my mouth. It was beating so loud that I was sure he could hear it. I told myself to play a tune in my head, that would relax me. It always worked, when I had stage fright performing at a concert, but even Papageno’s song could not control my shivering at that very moment.

Discussions were going on. Father tried to bribe them with his pocket watch. There was lots of pushing and shouting. Mother was crying. Father’s glasses were flung to the floor and the man with the Arsenal socks stepped on it. The glasses shattered into many fine pieces and the frames were dented. Father was now as blind as a bat. There was too much noise. I covered my ears and carried on with Papageno .

Suddenly there was a shot. The ringing stayed in my ears. Father dropped to the floor. The dust particles exploded in the air. I couldn’t feel the impact of father’s fall or mother’s hysterical screams. Only the ringing sound was in my ears. Father’s eyes were staring straight at me. Blood was oozing out of his head, it spilled into the cracks of the wooden floor. It spread to the coffee table and reached my shoes. That was when my body went weak and everything turned dark.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in General

 

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Why we write…

I just wanted to share this article, 9 Life Lessons Everyone Can Learn From These Beloved Classic Children’s Books, by Amanda Scherker at the Huffington Post. Reading it reminded me both why I write, and why I read. Learning how to live together and how to be happy are lessons we can really only absorb by sharing experiences and walking in each other’s shoes. Interestingly, I recently read another fascinating article in The Independent about how reading can not only achieve this in the moment, but also elicit that same cognitive function for days afterwards. It simply confirms for me the inherent value in literature, and the responsibility we bear for sharing constructively, even when addressing negative subjects.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in General

 

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