Posts Tagged ‘baby



You never forget the sound of a car crash. There’s no way to describe that sound, but once you’ve heard it you never forget it and every time you hear it again you get the same gut-churning feeling you got the first time.

We were fast asleep yesterday in the spare room, J-Rab, The Cub and I. It gets the most sun in the afternoons and we were curled up, dozing in it when we heard the sound.

I knew two things immediately after hearing it – whatever had happened was close and it was bad.

I got up, walked through to the living room, unlocked and opened the sliding door and looked down into the road.

We live on the second story of an apartment block that looks down on the bottom of De Waal drive, about 200 meters up from the canary-yellow speed camera that never catches anyone.

I looked down into the road where it sounded like the crash came from, expecting to see a mangled car but instead I saw a young-looking coloured guy in a green and white striped hoodie screaming the same thing again and again.

“Aziza! Aziza! Get an ambulance! Somebody help! Aziza! Aziza! Aziza!”

He was running up and down the road screaming like that. Whatever had happened was blocked from my view by short, dense trees, their branches leafless, dead from winter.

I took my phone out and dialled 10111. It rang for at least two minutes while I tried to piece together what had happened, tried to figure out what the lifeless trees were hiding.

I had one clue, something on the pavement, pale green lying just before the trees.

As my phone rang another figure came sprinting down the road, saw whatever the trees were hiding and started screaming. It was a girl, she ran right up to the trees screaming, and then ran the other way, then ran back to the trees again, then ran away again.

When the police eventually answered I tried to explain where the accident happened but the woman who answered rushed through the details I was giving her so quickly that if I hadn’t stopped to slow her down, she would have sent a police car to hospital bend, about 3kms in the wrong direction.

There’s a house adjacent to our flat, a middle-aged couple live there with a Labrador and a Bearded Collie puppy. I saw the husband across the road standing with the crowd that were gathering there. His wife was standing in her garden on a rock, holding the puppy and looking over her wall at the scene of the accident.

I called down to her, she was also trying to call the police. I told her I’d gotten through, I asked her what happened and she told me like it was something happening a million miles away.

I turned back to the leafless trees, back to the pale green thing on the sidewalk and instantly recognised it as a receiving blanket.

J-Rab came out onto the balcony holding The Cub who was still asleep and wrapped snugly against the winter cold.

“What happened?” she asked.

I don’t remember if I turned to tell her, I don’t think I could tear my eyes away from the trees, or watch her reaction when I told her.

“It’s a baby. Someone swerved off the road into her pram and drove away…”

I didn’t know what else to say. There was nothing else to say. We stared at the people gathering by the trees in silence.

A truck from the Fire Department just down the road arrived at the scene first, parked by the side of the road behind the trees. When they got there, the girl from before came running. Someone grabbed her, tried to hold onto her as she sank to the ground screaming and crying.

J-Rab started crying behind me, but I just kept staring, numb right down to my core.

“I see you have your baby, I have mine too,” our neighbour said, cradling her puppy. “Shame, so sad,” she said.

The ambulance arrived not long after that, parked behind the fire truck as two paramedics got out and walked to where the accident had happened.

It wasn’t long after that that we heard another sound from behind the fire truck, sounding out above the hum of traffic, ringing out clearly through the biting cold winter dusk.

I turned to J-Rab, “Is that her?”

“It must be…”

I exhaled and rubbed my eyes, suddenly exhausted despite the nap I’d just woken from. The girl was back on her feet, the crowd gathered across the road were close around her, holding her, telling her everything was going to be ok.

The crying stopped and not long after we saw one of the paramedics carrying an impossibly small bundle into the back of the ambulance. The police arrived after that, parked, got out the car, slouched toward the scene of the accident.

Before we went back inside our neighbour’s husband came walking back to his front gate. I asked him what had happened.

“It was a white combi, swerved off the road into that guy walking with the pram, came out of nowhere, they think he was drunk.”

I asked him if the baby was ok.

“She’s alive, ja. But with a big hole in her head.”

“Brain damaged?” his wife asked.

“They don’t know,” he said.

Back in the flat I poured a whisky, swallowed it and poured another.

I sat on the couch with J-Rab and held her as tightly as I could.

I stared at our daughter, who is three weeks old today, sleeping like only babies can in her mother’s arms.

A fear crept into my heart like nothing I’ve ever felt. I kissed my daughter and pushed the thought that was screaming out in my mind as far back as possible, but it was impossible to shut it out.

What if it was her?

I’m not a religious man but I prayed for that little girl, for Aziza, last night.

I hope whatever gods may be were listening and that she’s ok.

I hope she’s back safe in her mom’s arms, wrapped up against the winter cold like nothing ever happened.

And more than that, more than anything, as selfish as it sounds I hope that never, ever happens to our little girl.

I hope…