The little girl skipped through the lavender on the hillside. In her hand hangs a posy of made of paper daisies, lavender, reeds and various other flowers that I couldn’t immediately identify.
She is about nine years old, wearing a plain light summer dress which was a little inappropriate as the chill of winter had not yet departed. Her face had memories of fun and play in the days gone past smudged into her soft yet wind beaten skin.
The carefree young girl stops, raises her hand to her face and inhales the fragrance of the flowers. She smiles and continues to skip down the hill, singing a song in a language of her own to a tune never before heard by human ears.
She sees me watching her, stops, waves then changes direction to come toward me.
“Hello”, she says nonchalantly.
“Hello” I reply, “who are the pretty flowers for?”
“They are for me” she said, “I will keep them for always.”
“But taken away from their mother plant they will eventually die”
“Oh but not these flowers” she said “I have chosen flowers whose beauty and fragrance will last forever. Lavender is pretty now, and doesn’t lose its colour. Its fragrance is in the leaves which when crushed emit a stronger smell. The everlasting daisies and paper daisies never lose their beauty – even when cut from the plant and left in a vase till the water is all gone.”
“But people” I quipped “Can’t live alone; we need others to nurture us, to feed us. We need to be part of the garden.”
“Yet the Bunyan tree can exist in the desert. It doesn’t need anyone or anything to help it survive”
Her wisdom was beyond her years. She amazed me with her words, her innocent beauty and her boldness.
“Are you not afraid to be out here alone?”
“Oh, I am not alone. My mother and father are here with me.” She tried to explain to put me at ease.
“Can you take me to them?” I asked. I undid the top buttons of my uniform tunic, slung my rifle over my shoulder as she took me by the hand to lead me to her parents.
Over the next hill we sighted a small cottage. It was a humble goat herder’s cottage. It didn’t look out of place on the hillside alone. As we neared I could see it was riddled with bullet holes.
I let go of the girl’s hand, brought my gun to the ready and removed the safety then gingerly entered the cottage. There, on the floor, lay a local woman and a man still holding her hand. Unlike the lavender, the beauty of this little girl’s parents had long since departed.