Go and Knock Yourself Down
“Go and knock yourself down,” my neighbor on the right, called from his porch:
“You know that global warming bullshit is all made up by politicians,
we always had fire and flooding,
here in Australia.”
My elderly neighbor on the left
was just approaching our gate
using the walking frame:
“You know George, not everyone of us
was paid out handsomely by mines
to sing their tune and sit on his ass.”
She came up dressed in green
and sign on her t-shirt read:
‘Never too old to care!’
George shouted back visibly annoyed:
“I have worked hard in mines all my life,
you know, on tools, I am sixty-five
why should I care?”
My grand daughter waved at him across
the fence with her drawing of a planet Earth
looking just like Mars: “Uncle George, I am five
years old and even I know from school
that global warming is real.”
“Good on you, I have a bad arthritis in my knee
right now so leave me to drink my beer in peace, will you?"
The elderly lady hugged my grand daughter while I closed the gate behind us:
“You know Hayley, uncle George is not really a mean person. He is just old.”
“But you are older auntie Lydia, are you not? You are eighty-five.”
“But I am still young in my heart and I care my beautiful young one where you end up living when we are all gone.” She patted Hayley’s head gently and together we started to walk slowly towards the train station.
“Thirty years back I was on a tram with your dad in a pram going to be part of Velvet revolution, you know?”
I told Hayley while we waited for our train to take us to Perth.
“What is Velvet revolution nanny?”
My elderly neighbor patted my shoulder: “It must have been scary with all those soldiers around, they could shoot you for protesting not like here, you are free to march and have ‘your say’ if you care enough.”
“There will be soldiers to shoot at us?” Hayley looked up with tears in her eyes: “No, don’t you worry, let me tell you a story from the past.”
We boarded our train and Hayley cuddled next to me just like every evening ready for the story time:
‘It was day just like this but the end of summer in the Eastern Europe.
The previous night I put your baby daddy to sleep and tuned up the Free Europe radio.
The crackling voice advised us to make little badges on our coats with sign of freedom and gather in the main squares of our towns and cities next day to ring our keys peacefully and sing the song of freedom every Eastern European knew by heart.
So next morning I fed you daddy and change his nappy, put him in a pram and took lift to the basement. There just like uncle George, our pensioners were sitting on a bench in front of our communal building.
“Communism is not so bad, you still have enough to eat and you have work to go to, you are mother for goodness sake they shoot you and your baby there.” One elderly man whispered towards me but his wife took his arm: “Be quiet they are listening, we know nothing.”
Another elder man pointed his walking stick towards me: “You know it is a trap, the communists just want to know who is against them, there will be another war I am telling you and you will be the cause.”
The elderly huddled together and shook in fear: “We all have lived through war, we know.”
I bowed my head towards them in respect as it is custom and wished them good day. Then I continue on my way.
The square was full of people of all ages when I got there but mostly students and young people were bold enough to ring the keys and sing about freedom. The soldiers stood solemnly all around them with guns ready waiting for the approval to shoot. Their faces were dark and full of disapproval and menace. They were used to kill and chase and torture without reproach. I have signed my name and address on the long sheet of paper that was laid down across the whole square like a carpet to walk on. When I hesitated a little to fill in all details one old lady patted my arm. She was waiting to be the next one to sign: “We may all loose but we may all win hey?”
“The importance lay in the word ALL!” A barely eighteen years old student holding the sheet for me to sign in smiled at us: “We are all just drops in the ocean but together it is US making that ocean move where we want it to go.”
So I signed in and than sang the song of freedom and rattle the keys with everyone around me. Everyone was edgy, the soldiers were circling the square more and more but at the same time more people were coming through the side streets the soldiers warn them of disobedience and what it may cost them but they let them pass and people were coming and more of us was there safer we started to feel. The ocean was growing bigger. The old lady next to me nearly fainted so I propped her up: “What a beautiful son you have there and how peacefully he is sleeping if he only knew today we are making history.”
“Once I will tell him, if we survive,” I smiled at her nervously.
“We will, I feel it in my bones,” the lady smiled weakly at me: “You know I was part of the resistance during the war, and Hitler was defeated at the end and so will be the communists too.”
“But without war I hope?” I looked around nervously.
She squeezed my hand: “Without war it will be.”
And it was. In the evening I got back home and waited for the secret police to knock on my door.
“Did they come?” Hayley asked scared: “The soldiers to shoot you and my daddy?”
“I am here, no?” I hugged her tightly: “And your daddy too.”
“We won by singing freedom songs and ringing the keys, all of us making one peaceful ocean moving in the tide of freedom, that was velvet revolution my beautiful one.”
We got out in Perth and joined the other environmentalists peacefully walking through streets of Perth from one mining skyscraper to the next one reaching the stairs of the parliament building singing songs of healthy planet Earth.
“We have our own revolution now nanny, don’t we, green revolution?”
“Yes my beautiful one and it is your revolution now, so you still have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe in when you grow up.”
We have been pushing our elderly neighbor in wheelchair at that time as it was too much walking for her and she was waving the sign of ‘Clean Planet’ with so much enthusiasm we burst out laughing.