Archive for December, 2012

Boutros Boutros-Ghali


His last assignment was to report on “recent” developments. In the outskirts of the city, he set up a proper viewing point – almost invisible to the untrained eye. Surrounded by shacks, dogs constantly barking and the smell of sour gas, he was ready, or so he thought. Then he noticed something out of place in a shanty town – a shining Mercedes passing by and the perennial Land Rovers behind – that was not a usual visitor. Arms dealers? A discreet peace negotiations team? Hard to tell as clouds of raising dust; roaring armoured vehicles, and men riding horses jerked along.

People stood watching; there was a moment of stillness, as the caravan went by. It was hot across the land; the civil war had been ravaging the countryside for way too many years – truce agreements came, rarely honoured; the UN mission unable to do much good. He settled on his observation place; surveillance was his task; then report. Do not get involved, his orders. Night arrived; cool air refreshing the sweats and odors; he could see a camp fire not too far from the marketplace; people engaged in bartering, some arguing; others playing cards, checkers, dancing, high on something (…).

The following morning as the mists dissipated, he was already at his post; this was a country in perpetual collapse, a land inherited by drought, famine and despair. Yet, under its grounds black gold had supposedly blessed it, if only to become further fractured in a never ending internecine, genocidal civil war.  Here every day is an encounter with blasting debris, shrinking body parts of an unknown citizens, survival and resignation; a forgotten place were it not for people like him, still willing to report something, anything of a good nature, beyond witnessing despair, staring mirrors into the abysm.

Sheltered under a scorching sky he started messaging to the higher powers; the convoy has returned; they stopped for a moment assessing the locale; people scattered fearfully; the Janjaweed cannot be too far behind. A loud blast was heard throughout the flatness; another raid in progress; another village ransacked; his hearing muted, his vision blurred in red sand; his viewing point collapsed. He knew then, no help was coming. Silently he waited for a reply. The place was empty. Up in flames he exited his cover, bullets shifting the air around him. The news will be on tomorrow’s show; perhaps a quick clip on YouTube. Few will notice. Untouched, his spirit bended, going home was the only rational choice left.


© Leo Campos Aldunez

Edmonton, AB (Canada)