September 17, 2016
November 2, 2013
The Catholic church around the corner is dedicated to a Portuguese peasant girl whose visions of the Virgin Mary prompted the following declaration of her faith:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you.
These words are addressed not only to God himself, nor are they simply an intercession on behalf of those who lack faith in him; the girl’s prayer is also a personal statement of her self-belief.
Our Father who art no more nor ever was.
They would say that, wouldn’t they? I mean the teenagers who’ve been hanging round The Stow, the post-war shopping precinct in Harlow, chalking up plentiful police reports of anti-social behaviour (month after month, and for so long the original cohort must have moved on and grown up by now).
Surely they would say something like this, if disposed to speak of the faith and the self-belief that’s been disposed of (behind their backs, without them knowing, despite them trying to appear all-knowing all the time).
Are you kidding? Is this a gang of juvenile Kierkegaards, struggling for belief in a God of Uncertainty. Nothing could be further from theological discourse than the killing of 40-year-old Polish factory worker, Arkadiusz ‘Arek’ Jozwik, who died in hospital two days after he went out for takeaway pizza….and took a blow to the head instead. The only Sorens are the ones who were arrested.
Or, maybe that’s how they vented it – their aggravated sense of loss, and hating themselves for failing to locate, locate, locate anything other than their own paltry existence.
Chunky chap, low centre of gravity – can’t have been a complete pushover. Four years in the meat factory since he came over from Poland, whereas you’re not sure you’d last four minutes before running a mile.
So farewell, then, Thavisha Lakindu Peiris (25). I never knew you personally, but I do know all about your hard working career mindedness. I can see from the published photographs (in your graduation photo you look old enough to be your own father) that you were a credit to your family in Sri Lanka; until you were stabbed to death on your last night as a pizza delivery driver, only hours before starting a new job as an IT consultant.
Of course you never did start that job, because your-young-life was-cut-tragically-short.
I would apologise for addressing you in this clichéd manner; except, if you will permit me to talk past what actually happened to you, I think it is the cliché rather than the actualité which I should be addressing.
I’m not convinced, you see, that the telling of your terrible story is as it purports to be: a sign of how much we value human life. I suspect that Young Life Cut Short On Last Night Of The Pizzas, is really a way of saying: his real life hadn’t even started; he was just about to emerge from that shadowy, zombie existence comprised of not-quite-human creatures who either can’t cook or who can’t get a proper job. (It could easily have been said about you until recently: still delivering at Domino’s two years after graduating in 2011? Must be something not-quite-right.)
Or, if your story is especially poignant because you weren’t really a delivery boy any more, what does that say about the boys – some of them are as old as your father – still stuck behind the wheel with the cardboard boxes in a padded bag, not going anywhere else? Supposing their lives are like a scene from The Walking Dead, it surely shouldn’t matter any less when they get stuck with a knife.
Of course the context all but confirms the clichéd account. You died at the wheel of a foreign-made car in a cul de sac on a large-scale council estate – one of the many failed projects of Britain’s 20th century, on the edge of a Northern industrial city in long-term decline.