Is Legacy extinct?

My concentration has returned in part and I have been reading in between bouts of feeling grumpy. This was the new release that I picked up.

rebel hands

Below are some of the words that pinned me to my pillow.

“It must have been midnight when I woke again. The windows were squares of transparent blue light set in a black background; the moonlight beamed through the rooms. And old mango tree overhung the rondavel, engulfing the kitchen in a great black shadow and submerging the back door and the grassy yard in an ink-pool. The cold black leaves were etched in sharp serrations, their shiny surfaces reflection the moonlight. The haze of brilliance silvered the rows of orange trees dotting the slopes of the hill below us in tidy rows, towards the main road, a kilometer away.”

“The silhouettes of men, dim grey in the moon, moved past the windows on both sides. Flashes of reflected light glanced off their fixed bayonets. Feathers hung from hats, or stood up in the rims of caps, rags hung in strips from their arms; harsh whispers passed back and forth between them. There was the rattle and clink of rows of bullets, strapped across their chests, knocking against each other, and as they moved they crouched forward slightly, like cats stalking their prey.”

“I thought, Is this how we are going to die? Will there be no time even to prepare ourselves? Is this all? The moon shone benignly down, as if it were laughing. It seemed as if its very rays transformed themselves into a freezing fear, spreading through our bones, burning like dry ice. Our heads tingled. They were just going to shoot us in our backs.”

“We emerged from the msasa forest, a sea of pewter lace created by the late afternoon sun as it penetrated the tree’s canopy. A breathtaking sight awaited us. Far below us lay a vast valley surrounded by hill after hill of forest. From where we stood it looked like steel wool that had been teased apart. Grateful for a few moments rest we waited at the crest of the ridge for the rearguard to catch up.”

You might think the book could be an interesting read. Well, yes. It certainly is. For an outsider.

For me?

For me, it blasted the concept of interesting into blood-thumping oblivion.

It was like plugging myself into a time machine and whirling back to the moment that devastated my childhood, and to an extent, defines a part of who I am today.

This non-fiction book is written by one of the group that were abducted with my parents, in 1987 in Mozambique. I was eleven, and left behind.

Reading it was like watching a plane crash into a high rise. You can’t NOT look even though your legs go weak and horror courses through you. I found myself caught in the sickening space of waiting for my far-away recollections to meet up with the reality of who I am today. My childhood, idyllic as it was in growing up barefoot on a farm in Africa, was fraught with monstrous terror. My little girl nightmares actually did come to pass. Some bad men came and took away my security and altered the course of my life forever.

I am very familiar with the sensation of bloodcurdling fear, and the accompanying metallic taste in my mouth. I know what it is like to have your heart crash so crazily in your chest for so long that begins to hurt. I know what it is to peep out of the windows checking for evil men with weapons, alert to every noise, each branch crack or dog bark. My favourite time of the day is still the dawn, even though the sunsets of the savannah are almost indescribably stunning. The culture of sundowners, sitting quietly at rest after a long day of hard work, talking softly and watching the African bush fold her wings for nightfall while sipping cold drinks before dinner is a gold-tinged memory. But always, fighting the serenity, was the looming dread of the dark that pounded on the deepest drum of my soul. Dawn brings a reprieve, a sigh of relief. Another night packed away safely.

Admittedly, my personal journey was unique, it was un-common to be victims of this sort of war crime in our circle of society. But although tragedy comes in different shapes and colours, it results in exquisitely similar sensations.

As I read this account of a journey so terrifying it is hard to imagine, written by a friend of my parents who knew them in this chapter of their lives, I shook. It is easier to unhinge myself from the reality and pretend I am reading someone else’s story.

Reading a re-run of the abduction reminded me how the arms of security erode, taking me back to the trembling, unearthly hour that we were told that my parents and sister had been kidnapped. Back to the exact minute we were told we were likely orphans, that grainy tear-soaked sorrow which cauterised an indelible independence below the surface of my pulse.

Using words to cast me out of my current atmosphere, to that globe-tilting event and then onwards, might help to thread my fragmented past into some sort of necklace of sense. Like lassoing the planets and moons and lacing them into a chain, a backwards facing identity marathon, looping trauma to final healing and knotting in the golden bits of sun that were orbiting there too. Knitting hidden galaxies of grief and delight into seamless skeins of words, takes the power out of trauma and casts light into the bleak midnight memories. Using the Holy Spirit as a guide through the vistas of human emotion, and anchoring my line to His heart, I sense the gravity of direction.

I know I am not alone. There are a couple of bruised generations in recent years that have been separated from some part of Africa. For many in Zimbabwe, it is an abrupt severing of a proud heritage that has now been humiliated and disbanded. Many fought for the strength and beauty of their land in vain, only to watch as it twisted into a crippled, bleeding beast. Thousands of people carry a brand of this trauma and the whip-marks of a fear so desperate that it barely claws itself into realm of sanity or definition. We do what we have to do, turn our backs on the past, ignore the legacy in favour of life. But millions are left there helpless, as starving victims and orphans caught in the ripple effect of greed and bloodshed.

I know too, that Africa is just a slice of a devastating global pie – billions more fight battles of famine, terrorism and hopelessness. Billions beyond the scope of my meagre words. And there are armies of others who live in first world economies who are experiencing their own agonies of pain, divorce, redundancy, rejection and sorrow.

And so I hesitate to begin to write, even to publish this post, in the shadow of the giant of real suffering, my own experience is wafer-thin.

I wonder if I would be able to remember enough? Would it not be nauseatingly pin-headingly self-absorbed?

Are my memories too pebbly a night-sky to tame?

Perhaps legacy has become a luxury?

Thoughts?

Lisa  – (May 23, 2010 at 4:27 PM)  

Please tell your story. I'd love to read it.

Liesl  – (May 23, 2010 at 4:38 PM)  

This is so bizarre. My hubby and I spent 9 weeks at Maforga (the base where Trish and her husband Roy live). We met them, got to ask them questions and learnt a lot from them. We saw and touched the bullet holes that tore into the walls of the house we stayed in. You would enjoy meeting her. I hope that one day you get to meet her and go to Mozie and see the work that they and other missionaries do. It's incredible. One of my good friends works at Maforga as a nurse.

Widge  – (May 23, 2010 at 4:52 PM)  

You have me intrigued too. Wow Amy, you should write a book.

sarah  – (May 23, 2010 at 6:12 PM)  

oh my goodness (((hugs))) I am stunned by your experience. Please tell more if you feel you can, as I wonder now, heart in mouth, if your parents and sister were returned to you, and how you came from Africa to New Zealand.

I think maybe your legacy is the dawn.

Amy  – (May 23, 2010 at 6:38 PM)  

Wow Liesl, how amazing. I do know Roy and Trish well, as we lived at Shiloh Shalom, a supportive mission station in Zim that they used to come and stay at over thee years. They are a dear, sweet couple to us and Trish gave me a hand-painted card for my birthday, just before the abduction. She painted me a horse (my addiction) with the words on the back, AMY, Remember there is a loving purpose in everything that happens to you!
I still treasure it to this day. What a crazy small world to think you were there, in a part of mine. I can hardly believe it. And we have never even met. So God. PS, we went to Mozies on our honeymoon, if you can call it that. Camping on Beira beach, I know...young and wildly insane. xx

Gail  – (May 23, 2010 at 7:54 PM)  

"We do what we have to do, turn our backs on the past, ignore the legacy in favour of life."

Hey Babes, I'm looking forward to a cup of tea this week.
This is a deep thinking post. I feel so out of my league reading it, let alone commenting on it!! But your sentence there caught my heart.

Have you turned your back on it?
Or have you survived it, put enough distance between yourselves and the terror of living in such an unstable, unpredictable environment (I feel bad writing that because I only know from what I read), CHOSEN to give your children a different life (not a trouble-free life), allowed yourself a space where God can work on healing, helping you form your identity which includes this past but is not rooted in it.... but rooted in HIM...., put yourselves in a position where you are more able to give to those who are not able to leave.....

I don't know - I have no REAL understanding here.... but the legacy (what is carried on and into the future?!), I believe is not extinct, but has evolved and is ever changing.... the legacy passed to me from my past is not the one I pass onto the future... thank God.

I don't know if I'm commenting on the right track here..... in the haze of a ball and ice-skates here!

You have a story or two or 100 to tell. I look forward to reading/hearing your perspective if ever you feel you desire to.

Sj  – (May 23, 2010 at 10:02 PM)  

hey my fav
before i read the end of your beautiful post, i was thinking how i needed to tell you this: Your story, from your eleven year old eyes, needs to be told (and whatever other age eyes you would choose too).
'Using words to cast me out of my current atmosphere, to that globe-tilting event and then onwards, might help to thread my fragmented past into some sort of necklace of sense.' .....
As we share our stories, we get something incredible again from them, as others will too. I pray that you can do what you need to do with what is stirring, in your time.
Love you amy, yes lets talk this week beautiful YOU!

Simoney  – (May 23, 2010 at 11:27 PM)  

Wow Amy.
Tell it if you feel you can. if you feel it is the right thing for you to do now. We will be here.
xx

Liesl  – (May 24, 2010 at 8:45 AM)  

Mozie holds a very special place in my heart. The time we spent there was very healing to me. It is a special place. My hubby and I still dream of being able to go back and work there. Such a torn country, but the most beautiful people and smiles. I hope you share your story with us. Have you written it down? Even if not for us to read, at least for yourself.

Erin  – (May 24, 2010 at 1:44 PM)  

Maybe it's time for you to talk about it.

Cat  – (May 24, 2010 at 5:30 PM)  

"And so I hesitate to begin to write, even to publish this post, in the shadow of the giant of real suffering, my own experience is wafer-thin."

Everyone is relevant, none go unnoticed.
My belief is suffering is exactly that....suffering and it all matters.


"I wonder if I would be able to remember enough? Would it not be nauseatingly pin-headingly self-absorbed?"

So not self-absorbed...though truth be told some might say so...I have heard this before of memoirs. But you do not write for them...you write for you and those who love you and those who feel, and know the honour of being let into someone's life through words on paper.


"Are my memories too pebbly a night-sky to tame?
Perhaps legacy has become a luxury?"

I know to write this would be a journey, but what an amazing journey it would be. You know that if you choose to go down this path you will not be taking this journey alone. He goes with you...He will shelter you if you let Him, He will pour light into the darkness of your mind and still the nightmares.
You do not have to do this...it is your legacy and your to do with as you choose....and if legacy is a luxury, why would you not be deserving enough to indulge?

Yours is an extraordinary story to tell, but only you can know if it should be told.....

I am so glad you posted this Amy...it is a light on who you are.

love and light

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