A Childhood Remembered for Looking Into Coffins

Guest writer Davy Carlin with the penultimate vignette in his narrative of a black child growing up in a conflict strewn West Belfast.

‘Lost in thought’ I heard a voice say.

The words came from the Irish speaker,

I rolled my eyes in a, oh yee know, kind of way.

I hadn’t realised that two other people had got into the taxi, two people from far off lands, in their fifties, and they were engrossed in discussion. 

‘I remember coming here at the time of the hunger strikes, at the time of Bobby Sands funeral’ one said, ‘and the trouble afterwards,’ ‘Christ’, ‘I got caught up in it one night and only managed to get back to the hotel by going around that way’, as he semi circled with his finger into the distance. 

Indeed he to, was reliving a time on the road. 

‘Ah, they were some times guys, some history on this Road’ as he nudged the young thirty something local beside him. ‘You’re probably too young to remember it’ he said, then looked at me. 

I was unsure if he was including me in that statement, as some people even in recent times have taken a decade or more off my age on first meeting. Or maybe, as do some who do not know me think, on first look, that I am some tropical and exotic visitor. Although saying that, this is not to the same extent as in my younger years due to the many differing ‘races’ now being born here. 

And so I do what I usually do now, to those who believe for whatever reason that I would not remember such – I just give them but a friendly smile. 

‘And I got a bag of scallops in a chip shop away up there’ as he continued to voice his memories of those times to those around.’ 

The hunger strikes, Bobby Sands – do I remember? 

Do I remember walking in his funeral procession?

Do I remember sneaking out of my bedroom window to go get a bin lid to join others?

 Do I remember again being driven to react, with my hatred at its pinnacle? 

Do I remember looking into his coffin, age 10, {which I relived again in recent times by watching a BBC documentary of the time, of me looking into his coffin?} 

Do I remember seeing more bloodlust, more brutality, death, and again looking into more coffins of ultimate brutality?

Do I remember my mind further ripping when shortly after his death that I had went up upon Black Mountain wherein I had knelt up upon my knees with my arms outstretched and looked up to the heavens as the rain slowly came down. And, as I had written before ‘that from that position, from the very depths of my soul, from the very core of my being, I had let out the most almighty heart wrenching cry which echoed not only around the streets below, but I believed around the city of Belfast?

Remember it – how could I forget?

No comments