The Smuggler

Forest Fire

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I’m a grandmother. The grandest ever. And if the treatment doesn’t work I’m dead soon. Now I’m able to talk again I need to speak to you while I still can. You’re a big girl now and will be able to cope. We were both young and fiery once so you will understand. And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s the young who make the best decisions. My best decision was made young.

Oh, I need to speak to you. It’s not a confession …. it’s a perfection because of you and your children. Maybe I’ve told you this before but my head is a bit muddled.

I want to talk to you about your family tree. There were quite a lot of trees. I’m wandering. Be patient. I have had a stroke.

I was there. And your grandmother was there. She was my inspiration. Yes, she made my whole career but she made you and your children too. She may have been a bit of an angel.

It was forest then, there. I know you can see it on the computer as a zillion miles of farmland. But it was forest. The deepest darkest … and the people were the deepest darkest too. They are all dead. All your forebears are dead. That is the tragedy. They couldn’t live without their forest, like you and I can’t live without air.

It was all cleared. But you survived, you exist, because of her: your grandmother.

I was there, naive, innocent … and dare I say it … still a virgin so what happened was a bit of a baptism of fire.

She knew what was happening. She knew their forests were all going to disappear. I sort of knew it but never quite believed that such destruction could… It’s … I couldn’t do anything to stop it.

Well, she took me deep into the forest, deep into their culture, deep into everything – and gave me the information, the footage, the everything that led to my career. Oh, and led to you.

She cared about me and gave me the hugest break. I did become famous, the great face of anthropology in the media. She was the root of all my success – and the busy life. I … did I give you enough attention? I tried so hard.

Back to your grandmother. She led me for whole days to find gaps in the trees where I could charge up my equipment and get a satellite connection to upload all the video of the people, the way of life, the music, the whole beauty. The trees… Every single tree was bigger than you could believe. Each one seemed like a world in its own right. Well it was. I wonder if many people understand that. The problem is they burn so easily. That’s the fastest way to clear the land. The tribe had nowhere left to run.

I saw her tribe’s vulnerability. I saw I was strong – well, not strong – protected. I eventually understood they were all going to die.

She asked but I actually offered too. She knew no one was allowed out of the country except people like me. The thing I offered was carrying you.

Yes, she had sons and we had quite a bit of interaction … after I’d offered. There was never any question of rape. Nothing … nothing like that. These people were the kindest and most respectful – that’s why they could never fight back against what was being done to their world. A gentle people … so gentle. I mean, my love, it was an awful situation she was in and this was the only thing I could give her.

Not that I minded too much. Anyway, I got you as my reward. I smuggled you out of the country before you were more than a tiny bump.
I don’t know which of her sons was your father, but oh, they were all lovely people.

You were my contraband, my darling, my gift to her, to me and to the world – and to your children.

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©Gary Bonn 2018

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