Sat watching the television news from the BBC and the sight of Russian tanks rolling through Georgian and South Ossetia farmland, military troop carriers standing in country orchards. A chill went through me.
If you have never known war, never endured bombing raids, never seen military tanks move through streets of a once-peaceful village, you live in another kind of world. I sat there looking at the scenes on the TV screen and inwardly I was once again recalling the town of Mutare, what was then Umtali, under fire. The years of the Second Chimurenga. Personnel mines exploding on the green hills as I sat in a school classroom. Lying awake and listening to the old Hunter bombers flying over the Honde Valley to attack the Mozambique border. Farmhouses sandbagged with Agric-alert two-way radios and FN rifles in the entrance near the front door. Watching the radiant hot sun going down over the hills and granite kopjes and feeling afraid of attack by night. The country I lived in was both aggressor and target.
What kind of person would I have been if I had grown up in the same country, no great social upheavals, no danger of violence, and if I had never known war and the violent death of family members and friends? I asked S if he had ever thought about military tanks rolling into quiet Irish or Welsh villages, the townspeople having to scramble for belongings and flee — he just shook his head in disbelief.
But of course his parents would have lived through the Blitz. And his grandparents would have lived through the First World War and the terrible tragedies of the Somme… to live lives free of the shadow od war is so rare.
Woke with a blackness in my chest, a dark fearful mood, so dressed and went out for the walk as the dawn was breaking. Discovered the path through the Hay graveyard and walked up the hill under arches of clipped yew or box, pausing to look at Celtic crosses and tombstones. The Welsh names: Evans, Jones, Powell, Pritchard, Prosser, Elwyn.
One moving image. The carved statue in bronze, greened with time, of a young airman shot out of the skies in 1942. A young man or boy lying in almost a foetal position with wings folded away (a fallen angle) small bare feet. Holding to the bare earth, the ground beneath him. A sleeping child, a lost son..
And walking down I suddenly saw a wild hare hopping towards a hedge, that jaunty movement.
To carry on and to trust that it will get better and easier.