When I Was Eight

Posted on 14/09/2012 by


I saw the Berlin wall fall.

I saw the end of apartheid.

I saw someone have their face smashed in with the butt of a rifle.

I saw soldiers of two different countries jog through the streets of the town I lived in.

I saw a kid in my school, a victim of corporal punishment, bleeding from the head onto his carton of milk.

And one day men in uniform with ugly expressions come looking for my father.

I watched the wall fall on TV. I watched apartheid start to be dismantled from across the border. I watched Zimbabwean and Mozambique soldiers from shouting distance. I helped the kid clean the cut on his head. And I held my sister’s hand.

Those things all happened so far away and so long ago now that they don’t mean anything to most people. They’re just stories. But at age eight, standing in my front yard half a foot behind my sister who told the men with the helmets and boots and guns that my father was not home, it was very real.

Sometimes I wonder who we would be without our memories. I wonder how much of who we are is built out of the stories that are real for us. And I wonder what is real for you.

Image of the Berlin Wall with graffiti reading 'FREEDOM' and a group of people standing on top and at the base. A man reaches down to help someone up to join them.

Posted in: Kandace, Research