I wrapped you in my cóta mór in the dead of night unseen.
About a dozen families live there, in a collection of crumbling stables, and we'd come there to share a meal of apples with Nasir Ahmed. At 16, Nasir had the face of an old man, but he was the size of a five-year-old. He was dying of tuberculosis and polio.
I was visiting Nasir with Mahboob Shah, a tireless, 38-year-old Kabuli who spends his days driving around in a rickety old Korean bucket-of-bolts, visiting squatters' camps and writing down their particulars in a little green notebook.
Mahboob nodded to two urchins, in rags. "Those two children, sitting there. They can no longer walk." He nodded toward a little boy. "This one is Ramin, Nasir's youngest brother. His legs don't move anymore either. When I first came here, there were 12 young children and they could not stand. There was one who was seven years old. He weighed four kilograms."
. . .from an essay of mine in today's Calgary Herald.
There was a time not long ago when scenes like this were common here in the auld place, where I'm making the rounds visiting cousins with my daughter Zoe. Up to the home farm in Tuamgraney, roving out the west to Bray Head and St. Finian's Bay, over the high country through Moll's Gap and back around, and out to Loop Head yesterday with my cousins Christine and Pat. In Limerick for the moment.
We'd hoped to get out to Skelligmichael but the sea was too rough, and in the end it didn't matter at all. Here's Zoe on a mountain above Portmagee where we had a picnic in the glorious rain with the Skellings in the far distance: