On June 5th I returned from Vietnam, expecting a slow repatriation back into society, a slow acclimatisation from the extremities of the heat to a cold and sober life back in South Africa.
Reality always makes it mark, and the next thing you know is that you hit the decks running. My reality check came on the sixth day after my return. War was part of my trip, a picture of people dying was 40 years away, and the only real gun fire was that of an AK47 on in the distance.
On the 7th night of my return I to had to face the horrors of a bullet. As I bend over the old man I could see the gaping wound that the bullet had left in his mouth. Blood on the scene of the crime gave only a quiet testimony of the events that unfolded.
Pictures can change lives, a naked girl running away from napalm that burned into her flesh, I scrolled through the images that I gathered through the years, memories sometimes locked away in the dungeons of my subconscious. A helicopter taking a wounded patient to safety. A phone call to a mother informing her that her son will not return home. Each image a reminder of those that were lost and those that were saved. We race to try and stop the completion of the circle of life, events that form part of something that was set in motion long before it interacts with you, sometimes the bullet only touches your skin, other times it drives deep into your soul.
On the 7th day of my return from Vietnam without any repatriation or acclimatization realisation dawned that we are the frontline in the war with the circle of life. We honour the dead and we celebrate the living for we are First Responders, we are the hoodlums of conspicuous Events.