Saturday, April 21, 2012

This Easter

This Easter I spent an eventful and sorrowful week with friends at the Gold Coast, in a little suburb called Mermaid Beach right on the coast, with such rough waves that it was perfect for surfing. It so happens that there is a modest tower on the beach that used to be a light house some hundred and twelve years ago, but which has recently been converted into a bell tower, used for signaling the beginning and end of the local surf events. On the day of my arrival, a surfing festival was running for that week and there was a commotion around the tower. Upon questioning, I learned that a man of extremely short stature, a humped back and no arms had shown up and asked for the recently vacated job of alarm activation specialist at the tower. We all watched a demonstration of his skills: after climbing the modest, but still rather tall tower, he made a mighty leap and struck the bell with his head! The sound was clear and pure and indeed he did not seem hurt by this. For two days I would walk down the beach each morning and hear him perform his duties so admirably. But on the third day, I was passing the tower as he made his leap - and the poor fellow missed! He tumbled down some ten metres and fell to his death on the sand below. A crowd of us gathered around as the police arrived, and the sergeant asked if any among us knew his name. With tears in my eyes, I responded honestly: "no, but his face rings a bell."

The poor man was identified later that day and his family notified. We were all downcast, but the next morning I cannot say that I have ever been more surprised to find that, when I took my morning stroll, there was another man of extremely short stature, a humped back and no arms climbing the tower. Upon enquiring among the gathering crowd, I learned that this man was the sibling of the earlier misfortunate alarm activation specialist and, in memory of his sibling, had applied for the same position. I stood still as the man reached the top of the tower, stood facing us bravely for a short moment and leapt into space - but missed the bell! We gave out a collective gasp of shock as he too fell that same ten metres down to his death on the sand. The sergeant was once more called to the scene and in a low voice asked if anyone knew the man's name. Again with tears welling I replied "No I don't know his name, but he is a dead ringer for his brother."

No comments: