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Wipe The Sky Clean Of My Tears

I wiped my tears from the sky today. Well, I would have if I’d known how to cry.

But I could cry.

I cried when I met the boy and his brother, five and six, begging for bread in Kwanonzame, South Africa. Their parents had deserted them long ago, abandoned them to a cruel world that would only feed them scraps of bread. I cried and my wife at the time, Tina, told me to stop for I was pathetic to cry but I couldn’t stop the tears for those boys, anyway. Perhaps the tears were for my abandonment as well.

I cried every time my father tied his dogs to a fence and beat them mercilessly. They would howl and I would cry for them.

He loved those dogs and I reasoned – as a six-year-old would reason – that he beat what he loved. He beat me and I would howl like the dogs. He would keep beating me till I stopped. So I learned not to howl.

I could cry for two poor boys and for defenceless dogs but I can’t cry for me.

So I wipe not my tears but my pain from the sky, again. Again and again.

I am 69, it is 17th January, 2023 and I have just woken from a dream so vivid and possible. In fact, it did happen, in a slightly different way.

In the dream I was fourteen so my sister would have been twelve and my brothers ten and eight. Our mother was packing her bags and I remember lots of fine scarves going into her bag, something she seldom wore. In reality, Mum never went away on her own but, in the dream, she was leaving us. Dad said she couldn’t cope so she had to leave. Forever. Then he disappeared like smoke in the breeze and I got on with what I needed to do. Fetching my car was my first priority – yes, this was a dream – and Dad’s voice told me not to worry about the other three as they were being taken care of – neighbours or institutions or something.

But what about me?

No answer from Dad and there was Mum driving away.

I wasn’t angry or scared for myself but I kept telling Mum she was pathetic and a failure and she just smiled, kept packing and drove off.

Another part of me reasoned that I’d be looked after, somehow, for I knew – I just knew – that I would make it to a peaceful old age.

So I stopped believing in people – any people – and I believed in God, a God that would get me through every scrape and setback I would encounter. Each day of my life, therefore, I have dreaded getting up for I would encounter people. But I would get up for I knew I would encounter God, who would get me through, despite the people there.

So, one day I will wipe the sky clean of my tears, when I learn to cry for myself. Till then, I will wipe the sky clean of my pain. Again and again.

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