Family holidays are wonderful: the warm glow of beaming faces, eyes full of love and unbridled affection for your long-missed kindred. Those golden moments blessed in a tight embrace. This is your family; this is where you belong. The seemingly endless travelling in trains, planes and cars have been worth every hour, every minute and every dollar to reach them. At long last, you are home. Your soul is at peace. This euphoria lasts about twenty minutes.
Then comes the pep-talk that you, now an elder, need to have with the rest of your family, usually amidst doing something inane like shopping where you can send soldiers off for supplies to get one-on-one time. This holiday shall be different, you declare. Not like the time you were 'lost' in a department store and not like the time there was a screaming match culminating in wishes of death and abandonment of homes because someone was a particularly mouthy six-year-old. Oh no, you insist, this time it will be fine. Absolutely fine. Fine. You reiterate the mantra to yourself at the check-out. It’ll be fine. 'I'll grab those mentos and some coke though' you inner self asserts, 'they could take my head clean off' . But it’ll be fine.
The country of my upbringing is a place made of pure solace: the very trees and grass are hewn from it. And yet it’s from these very homes in this verdant paradise that we huddle in sitting rooms, looking out onto a vast world through the television, a distant land of natural disasters and another American gun-violence day – a constant fixture in a broken society. Cameras pan to strewn bullets on boulevards cordoned off by police tape. Neighbours gush to the journalists of ‘often quiet man with access to an arsenal of weapons.’ Your family exchange horrified gasps, again, where gun violence has, again, extinguished the lives of innocent people. Again. The same questions arise – ‘Why?’. ‘Why would someone do this? How could it get so bad?’ And there you sit on the corner, munching on your muller-rice, thinking, ‘I wonder if it was the 11th or 12th time he was asked that morning, why he don’t you kids yet?’
A Reed family holiday looms.
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