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U3A Writing: Are You Somebody?

Merle Parkin recognises kinship when she sees a pair of sad and wistful eyes.

Are you somebody, my dark-eyed friend? Is your face so wistful because you can't communicate with me, or because your years have been ineffably sad?

When I meet your gaze your eyes are limpid pools of recognition, as though our family - yours and mine - had not branched asunder all those years ago. Wisdom lights the look you bestow on me, the wise look of mothers down the years; of mothers who see their offspring headed on the path to disaster, but remain mute because they know it is futile to speak.

Are we cousins, my friend of the deeply furrowed brow? Do you see kinship when you look into my face? When we peruse each other's curious glances, do you see a somebody looking back at you - somebody who has thoughts like yours and needs that are familiar to you?

Or is there emptiness behind my eyes, the emptiness one sees in the eyes of the drugged, the brain-dead, the crazed fanatic or the bloodthirsty killer?

Sometimes the eyes of certain people stare out from a photograph or film, so emptily it seems that one can see clean through to the back of their skull. Cold orbs of glass through which you can see there's no soul there, just a primitive nothingness.

But I look into your eyes and see that you would never harm your children, or mine. I see a kindness, a questing for better things, a psyche that's like my own.

How could my people bestow cruelties on yours; how could they snatch away your babies, and leave you to languish behind bars?

They say you are only an animal, but your eyes betray the truth: that you are a somebody, my chimpanzee friend.


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