In the summer of 1964 at the age of seven, I went to boarding school in Surrey county, south east England.
I can remember the crunching sound as the driver of the hired car, eased gently over gravel into the somewhat circular driveway; in front of a peach colored house.
My mother and I were welcomed at the front door by the caretakers: Mr and Mrs A.
They had an only child and a dog.
We were ushered into the greenhouse style enclosure where we would have our meals when we got settled. Then to the garden with cut lawn.
Children played in the garden, chasing each other and laughter was all around. I was from Ghana everybody else was British.
Mother left me there.
I guess it was “catch” we were playing when the Alsatian came and bit my elbow.
Surprised, I told Mrs A: “The dog just bit me.”
“Oh, he thinks you’re sheep, you have wooly hair.” she said.
Henceforth, I kept one eye open for the dog. Even as we said grace before each meal: For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly grateful. Amen. It would on occasion still come around and bite my bum and I would jump with surprise.
I told Mrs A. several times.
This was an all boys boarding school and I had an older brother in the main school. The main school was a walking distance from the peach colored house, so we walked in twos every morning to classes. Where the path was narrow or the street unsafe, single file was the best. I experienced and saw snow for the first time. Lovely to look at and play in, but cold nonetheless.
Homework was done weekdays back at the house. We the children played games, read books and other fun stuff weekends.
As life would have it, there were occasional flare ups of fights. It was over in less than a minute before Mr or Mrs A. could catch us. It was usually wrestling with your opponent until several taps with a hand from one, would signal he had given up.
For Christmas and Easter holidays, my brother and I would go to a paid Guardian. In the summer holidays we would visit our family.
After the first year of school a little white kid came to school there. He smiled so nicely we liked him instantly. He was so little though.
We resolved to protect him from any bully.
Bedtime was fun because, Mr A. would come every night and kiss every child good nite.
All of us.
Sometimes, he would make us laugh by removing his false teeth for us to see.
One ordinary day like the others, the sun rose in the morning. Then grey skies with a hint of rain. We walked to school and walked back. Removed our shoes in the mudroom put on our slippers and dashed into the playroom. There was our little friend with his face bandaged up.
The dog had bitten him.
In the face.
I guess his height afforded the opportunity, or was he playing on the ground at the time? When? I never did ask.
It was a sad day I would say for all the children, as we were unable to protect our little friend.
We heard that the dog was to be put down.
Later, we heard that Mr and Mrs A. had said no, to the request from the authorities. They could then, no longer be caretakers of children.
They chose the latter.
All the children were moved and housed in the main school.
We lost our family.
The nation America and now the world is reeling from the death of George Floyd. This is a story about heeding the call to fix what seems to be someone else’s problem before it becomes your own.
We all have choices to make. Let us choose to do good.