I froze in my tracks and stared in utter disbelief.
And the young infant boy hitched at your side gave out a piercing cry that caused my heart to shrink.
The black cotton hair I last remembered you with now looked like black patches on a diseased fruit and your happy eyes now shone dull like a dying star.
And of all the places we anticipated to meet after school…why did it have to be here. …in line with asylum seekers?
My dear friend, “Are you running away from life too?”
I’ll keep in touch, I’ll miss you” you said,
holding back tears and hugging me with a choking tightness.
I watched you closely as you whisked off in your mother’s waiting car.
You meant more to me than you knew.
You filled my high school days with rib rupturing laughter and good memories.
Secrets shared in the depth of dark nights…
sitting on trunks…
eating in the dormitory…
breaking rules and feeling the melange of anxiety and thrill it gave us.
Non-conformity was “hard core”.
We kept each other in our hearts fondly…with hopes of meeting again.
But one day I heard Sydney Carter’s song again,
and thoughts of you flooded my mind.
It was our favourite tune during our last days in school
we sang it together in our loud husky voices as we thumped our feet on the floor.
“One more step along the world I go,
one more step along the world I go;
from the old things to the new
keep me traveling along with you”
You didn’t keep in touch like you promised and I kept wondering what the world had made of you- hard core, soft core or iron ore.
Where does it hurt my dear friend?
I feel the pain too…it hurts everywhere.