Visiting the museum with Gerald was always such a risk. So far, though, the day had been all that she had wanted and planned. The group had seen some beautiful paintings; the children had been interested in the artifacts unearthed by archaeologists in central Europe; lunch had been surprisingly tasty; and no-one had wanted to cut the visit short due to boredom. They all moved down to the basement to look at the exhibit labelled “Though the Ages”. In front of the first exhibit, she held her breath. Predictably Gerald began, “When I was young …” Everyone groaned!
Hidden among the modern edifices of the sprawling city, the building suggested religious observance, a strict adherence to rules, and practices steeped in history. Instead it housed a rising Phoenix, the spirit of those that revolted against the oppression of the Romans. Centuries later, the small group planned to fight against the oppression of the current rulers.
“This time we need to get leaders in government and business on our side. Let’s be smart so that we can prevail. Think French Revolution!”
The embers stirred as one of the most powerful men of the country walked into the age-old synagogue.
The streets were deathly quiet as people fearfully hid in their homes. The prolonged cold snap kept them huddled under blankets as power stations struggled to warm homes. The city did not know how to cope with the snow and had rigged makeshift ploughs to clear the empty streets. Another onslaught of precipitation was forecast and the government was gearing up for the predicted chaos that would ensue. Warning signs of Earth’s response to the misuse of its natural resources had been evident, but ignored. The Earth chose to re-balance itself with another Ice Age. It was finally beginning.
Sometimes when we sit around the table at dinner time, my family and I play the ‘if’ game. (We always seem to play when it is mid-February and the temperature outside is below -20!)
The game always starts with the sentence, “What if we had never left South Africa to move to Toronto.”
We would have spent more time outside (remember this game is always played mid-winter!).
We would not have experienced living in cold, snowy climes.
We would have had to drive the children everywhere. They certainly would not have gone out with their friends as they do now.
We would have lived in the suburbs in a house with an outdoor pool.
We would have spent more time with family – siblings, cousins, grandparents.
We would have driven everywhere. Now we walk a lot: to the supermarket, to the subway station, to work.
My daughters would have gone to a private school. Instead now they attend a very good public school within walking distance of where we live.
My daughters would have had to learn Afrikaans – and they would not have learned to speak French.
We would not have used the public transport system – which in Johannesburg is very poor. Now we go everywhere using the TTC (Toronto’s public transit system). We love it! The trains and buses are frequent; and we do not have to stress when driving in a busy city.
I would have had a different work experience. In Toronto, my teaching experience is so much more than what I experienced in Johannesburg. The school board I now work for has a lot more supports in place for teachers than the school board I used to work for – and I currently work at a school that has many resources available to me.
My husband would not have had the experience of working at a large international company.
Often when we play this game, my husband and I feel nostalgic for the lifestyle we lived in South Africa. We do miss the good weather and our loved ones whom we left behind. But we remind ourselves of why we left. And, when we look at the positive experiences our children have had and their successes, we know we made the right choice.
(This post is linked to Frank’s If Challenge. You are invited to join in and write a post of your own. The post can be in any format: a poem, an artistic impression, a commentary. Once you have written your post, you can share your post on Frank’s page.
The end of the school year always arrives with mixed feelings. I feel thankful for the upcoming school break and always look forward to the rest. However, as I wave goodye to my students on the last day of school I do feel a little sadness.
During the school year I get to know each child as well as I can. I help them through a learning discovery for a year and encourage them to develop their skills. I get to understand their personalities and figure out a way in which to motivate them. When April comes around, we are all used to one another and have found a way in which to work together.
As I wave goodbye and wish my students well for their summer vacation, I wish that I could continue with them on their educational journey. But it is not to be. I reconcile myself that we will meet in the hallways.
TheA&B Building was made entirely from driftwood, a testament to the company’s commitment to using natural materials instead of those made in factories. The building housed an enterprise that had been run by the same family for generations. Inside these walls they had researched ways to use natural resources while protecting the earth. Noticing the slow destruction of their planet, the current generation had determined that they needed to be more aggressive in the protection of their world. As the sun set, the family members gathered as they would at a family dinner. The matriach lead the meeting, assisted by her great-grandchild who had a doctorate in environmental biology. Not only biologists, though, were waiting to assist in the plan. Among the crowd were bankers, engineers and political scientists to mention a few. The plan would begin, though, with the well-renowned journalist.
The family had no idea that little Luigi would grow up to be a hunted man. Like the rest of them, he had grown up in a loving environment. Being the youngest, he had had attention lavished upon him; his every whim attended to. Maybe that had been the problem. Unknowingly the family had encouraged his belief that he deserved all he desired. And he had come to desire a life of luxury and ease. When asked, Luigi had claimed his wealth came from a well-paying job and wise investments. However, the reports in the newspapers hinted at a life of thievery and the ability to slip through the fingers of the law. The old ones shook their heads and mumbled prayers for him. The younger ones admired his audacity. And each one wondered when they would see him again as he would surely come home to the comfort of his family.
The mural on the wall was a grim reminder of the past: the immense sea had been home to delightful water creatures. I have heard that they were friendly towards humans. Too trusting. Our forefathers disregarded their need for a clean environment and safe haven. Now it was too late. All that is left of their beauty are photos, paintings and video clips. And yet, even now, the leaders wish to destroy these reminders. For our own good. So that we no longer yearn for the past and look forward, instead, to the future. A bleak future filled with concrete.
How would you describe a world in which there are no sea animals?
I see absolutely everything. The eye pulls me in, deeper and deeper. I see past actions and how they influenced the present ones. I see that the decisions made today determine the course of events for tomorrow. I see sorrow, pain, mutilation. I see the screams of both the damned and the innocent. It cannot be. It must not be!
Breathing heavily, I pull myself away from the hypnotic eye. Sweat trickles from my hairline into my eye. The saltiness of it stings, as does the task that lies ahead of me. I did not ask for this: to be the one who will “save the “day”. But do it I must or our world may not survive. I take a deep breath. The first thing I need to do is to find allies who are strong and true.
During the early afternoon, the rest of the group had moved on ahead of us.
“You should have told us you were not fit enough to do this hike. We are losing time waiting for you!”
They had left in anger, showing no empathy for the pain I was feeling in my injured leg. Ben had walked with me to the ruins, chatting about this and that. With the sun beating down on my head and the small breeze cooling me off, I had been content.
We had arrived at the ruins about two hours after the others. Looking around, we had expected to see them setting up camp. An ominous silence had greeted us instead.
“Come on guys, quit fooling around. You are scaring us!”
We never did find them. The ruins have now been labelled haunted.