Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ave, Gord!

Gord Sellar writes a touching post about receiving, from his sister, a book about his father's life and adventures in the wild.

There are a few stories in this book that I remember hearing many times, often with different emphases or embellishments—chance encounters with leopards that he somehow survived; a midnight visit (complete with drugged smoke) from a secret society member, which he combatted by having a local witch doctor ostentatiously inscribe a magic circle around his house to scare the society members from repeating the visit; and the horror story of my parents’ first date, with some details swapped: in the version I knew, my Mum was left in a stuck jeep with a rifle, but in the version in the book, it’s in a tent in the bush with the radio on, while my dad went to get help from the local villagers.

Yes, folks, on my parents’ first date, my dad had to walk through the jungle to a village to get help, while my mum was left provisioned against lion attack. It’s a wonder my sisters [and I] were ever born, a fact that’s driven home by other anecdotes in the book: fishing trips gone wrong that skirted dangerously close to crocodile attacks, brushes with all sorts of horrible tropical diseases, and run-ins with a government that was insane in the typical way of post-colonial sub-Saharan African dictatorships.


...I don’t read the book sorrowfully. I’ve missed [my father] for a long time, and missing him has become part of life, a wound one learns to live with. This book doesn’t fill the wound, but it does salve it; it feels like receiving back a small part of him that I’d thought lost to the howling winds and the rain that falls into the ocean.

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