The new puppy Satch is growing into his personality, more alert and curious and affectionate. When he sees me come into the room he runs to me making excited noises with his clumsy soup-plate paws akimbo. All three dogs play together happily. As yet the word ‘No!’ means zilch.
Went up to the main street cafe this morning to get milk and the air was thick with teargas after a protest march about electricity costs got riotous. As the gas made my eyes burn and itch, I had flashbacks to all kinds of traumatic memories of marches and rallies from years back. War never goes away. I came home and sat aat the kitchen table waiting for my breathing to calm and level out. By chance — serendipitous luck — I found this moving article by Janine di Giovanni about a two war correspondents settling down to a normal life in Paris and finding out that war casts a long shadow.
The trauma psychiatrist asked me: “How many dead bodies have you seen?”
I thought hard, trying to remember events and places; fields of bodies, mass graves, wells with blue corpses stuffed down them, the man in East Timor who washed up in the sewer, the slabs of dead flesh on my daily trips to the morgue in Sarajevo, the soldier in the snow in Chechnya, the miles and miles of dead Rwandans on a road near Goma. Skin stretched purple over bone. Bloated faces. How many? The fact was, I did not know. Dozens? Hundreds?
The psychiatrist was silent as he wrote in his notebook. After a while, he looked up. “Don’t you find that odd?” he said, not unkindly. “Most people only see the bodies of their grandparents, or their parents, and only at their funerals.”
Bright sunshine after a weekend of rain. Broken glass on the main street, lingering tear gas. But women going out to shop, carrying babies on their backs wrapped in shawls, a tractor rumbling down the road en route to vineyards. Small birds darting amongst the cotoneaster berries and the mountains still dusted with snow. Life going on, good, bad, difficult, incalculable.