I wish I did not have to write this post. I am not even sure that I should because my words are in no means an adequate measure of what must be said.
A few hours ago I found out that my childhood friend, Bryan, was murdered during an apparent robbery that occurred while he was home alone.
I have known Bryan most of my life. He married Sandy who I have known all my life. They have two daughters and a son.
They had the kind of loving relationship and marraige I admired.
In the years that I lived overseas Bryan and Sandy lived in and around our hometown, Kimberley. A few months ago they moved to Johannesburg where Bryan had found a new job.
Their lives were in transition.
I know a little about Bryan's decision to move his family. About a year and some ago I bumped into him at a reunion in Kimberley. He did not recognize me.
I stood close to him and said "hello Bryan how are you?" His eyes lit up and he said "Ridwan I would never have known it was you but I recognized your voice."
At that moment I knew that more years had passed than I realized. The last time we talked was before he married Sandy and that was two decades ago.
We sat at the same table that night. Tony and his wife, Mel, were visiting from Australia, Patty from Johannesburg, and there we all sat talking about "back in the days" and more.
I met Bryan's two beautiful daughters and watched him dance with Sandy and then with his daughters.
At one point they were all on the dance floor and having a ball. Inside of that moment I remembered just how much I liked and admired Bryan; how gentle a human being he was and that in all the years of our youth, I never heard him raise his voice ... not once.
I also thought about Sandy. She looked very happy and excited about the prospect of moving to Johannesburg. They were moving for the family. For a better life in a country where making a living is very hard.
Before Tony, Mel, and I left the reunion, I bid farewell to Bryan and Sandy. He was beaming and we hugged. I wished them well in their new life and I said goodbye to their daughters.
We left. Tony and Mel went to Australia. I stayed on in South Africa for a month before leaving for Mexico.
I heard recently that Bryan and Sandy had found a rental somewhere in Johannesburg. I also heard that they were happy and that the eldest daughter started college.
I wish the story ended there. That Bryan and Sandy would be happy tonight somewhere in Johannesburg.
This is not what life should be like. This is not why we struggled against apartheid and dreamed of days when our families and loved ones could live free and with dignity.
What freedom is this? What dignity is this?
Bryan's fate is not an isolated tragedy. South Africa is beset by violent crime and it makes living here very hard.
This is not what life should be about. This should not have happened to a man so caring and so gentle a human being.
What is going on?
May God rest Bryan's soul and bring strength to my sista Sandy and her family.