We were all gathered in the one room upstairs. Scared.
Outside, an angry mob beat their hands on our high metal gate, alarming the crows, who joined the bedlam of noise.
My mum had her arms around my sister and me, tightly holding us close. But I didn’t feel safe. Fear had arranged itself into a tight little knot and made itself comfortable low in my tummy.
My uncle had heard on the news that angry mobs in the capital city where we lived were creating chaos.
“But why are they here Uncle? What have we done?” I was confused.
“In their minds, someone has to pay for yesterday’s ambush in the North.”
My uncle could have been speaking Latin. Nothing made sense to me.
The ringing telephone startled us. My uncle quickly picked it up. I saw him listen intently and then put the phone down.
“C’mon, downstairs everyone, quickly. Let’s get to the back door.”
“What’s happening?” I asked worriedly. No one answered me.
We ran downstairs.
Near the kitchen was a door leading to our back garden. Crouched low, we ran quietly to it. Outside the air was filled with an unfamiliar smell that I didn’t like.
The back of our house was fenced off by a high concrete wall.
“Beyond this wall is our rescue” my uncle said.“Mr Pereira from the top of the street is in a black Fiat, waiting for us in the laneway.”
I had seen Uncle greet Mr Pereira at the corner shop before but I never paid him much attention.
“Can we trust him?” my mother asked worriedly.
“Quickly, go now”,urged my uncle.“Help your children when you get to the other side.”
My uncle helped my mum scale the wall.
My little sister started to cry.
“Ssssh angel. They’ll hear us. You must stay quiet. Climb on my shoulders. Mamma will help you from the other side.”
“Your turn, Kavitha.”
I didn’t need to stand on my uncle’s shoulders. He just lifted me high and I managed to straddle the wall with my legs and slide down the other side, grazing my knees against the concrete wall.Tiny droplets of blood meshed out but I didn’t feel the sting.
My mother and sister were already in the back of Mr Pereira’s black Fiat as my uncle and I got in. Mr Pereira put his car into gear and slowly drove the long way to his house. He parked at the back of his house and Mrs. Pereira waved us frantically in through the fly screen door.
We were safe.
Our neighbours, the Pereiras risked their own safety to rescue us from the angry mob.
My mother said neighbours were more than the people who lived next to you, or even on the same street as you.
Born in Sri Lanka, raised in Zambia, Papua New Guinea and the Maldives, Tania Nallathamby now happily lives in Melbourne with her family. She is a Laboratory Scientist with a passion for children’s fiction. She can be contacted attania.nallathamby(AT)bigpond(DOT)com
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