It’s late ish. 11.20pm. The power has just come back on after being off for a day and a night.
I am upstairs and about 10 minutes ago, opened a window to the cool of the night. I have just heard, from house a block behind us, the most awful screaming. Like I have never heard before, and I have heard some. Panicked, terrified screaming. Women’s and children’s voices. Calling, ‘Baba! Baba!’ – ‘Father, Father!’. And other words, that I couldn’t make out.
I stood at the window, a voyeur on someone’s terrible pain. I tried to compensate for my inaction by looking for flames – no fire, nothing I could see. Heart attack? Death? I wondered if I should go around. I have before, intervened in people’s anger and pain and violence. Should I here? The answer is obvious.
It stopped. Maybe it was only a few minutes. Did the father wake up? Is everyone ok, or are they just silent. I am relieved of intervening. But I hope I am not relieved too often, or I will soon learn not to hear.