On the 21st October 1966 the Village of Aberfan – South Wales, appeared on the television screen in front of me.
I was seven years old at the time, two, maybe three years younger than the 116 Children that were taken on that Day.
I wasn’t watching the News purposely, I was sitting ready to watch Andy Pandy, Bill and Ben the flowerpot men or the Wooden Tops.
Our Television was old… black and white only, but adequate to display the images of that fateful Day. Those tragic images were burned into my memory, like a Cowboy using a branding iron.
Until that Day, I had only experienced emotions of love, kindness, maybe a glimpse of frustration every now and again, but suddenly…only feet from my face: images of tearful Mothers, their eyes wide and wet as they watched Men dig with their bare hands in sheer desperation to find and save their Children.
I wasn’t traumatized by the events of that Day, nor did I cry, but the memory of Aberfan and its lost Children was to stay with me through the years. So much so that last week I had to visit them in their resting place. I’m so glad that I did.
High on the western slope of the Taff Valley above the village of Aberfan, overlooking as if keeping guard of their childhood playground is the resting place of those innocent Souls that lost their lives all those years ago.
The white marble bright as a bonfire burning at night projects its presence along the entire valley making a clear statement: WE ARE HERE!
I passed through the Cemetary Gates onto an uneven path bordered by large Caledonian Pines, their needles unswept for a long time littered the floor, crooked Headstones covered in lichens, and green with age produced an image of secluded neglect.
I slowly gazed the steep cemetery and at the very top of the slope, there they were!
The uneven gritty path, broken and crumbling in places was steep, so steep in fact my Electic Wheelchair was struggling for power, I even had to reverse up at times to prevent myself from tipping over backward. Determined to get closer to the Kids I pushed on, literally.
Apart from my Brother John and myself, the Cemetary was deserted. The only noise that of Jackdaws calling from the Village below. Our progress was surely watched by unseen eyes.
I slowly maneuvered my wheelchair along the row of graves, reading the heart touching tributes placed by grieving parents as I went. Short, simple verses that ripped the heart of the reader wide open.
After reading the last verse I turned to look back at the white row of arched headstones. Now those children of Aberfan, that for so long had been in my mind had names and faces.
As I sat amongst those graves on that hillside, was it the chilly breeze that moistened my eye?
“Da Boch Chi”.
Categories: Burning the Midnight Oil