• J Watford

Danica


It would be too easy to simply describe the difficult life 5-year-old Danica had. She lived in a tiny, cramped home with too many small children and no doors. Every day, at high tide, water would flow into the house, and in the rainy season, the flood would rise up to two feet. Danica was raised by her maternal grandparents because her parents weren't together and her mother had mental health issues. Her grandfather, a tricycle driver, was only just starting to walk again after being bedridden for a year.


But to do this would mean to ignore how Danica's grandparents loved her, how she helped her grandfather recover by massaging his legs, how she made her mother, sister and cousins laugh with her innocent jokes, how she loved fashion, how she and her father adored each other, how excited she was that day, her first day in grade school.


Two men barged into their doorless house and started shooting Maximo, Danica's grandfather. He dragged himself out into the alley behind the house, desperately looking for a place to hide, as bullets flew into his body and around him. He didn't realise that Danica was in that alley, washing herself to get ready for school. Maximo lived, but Danica died from a single bullet.


I could tell you that Maximo was a former drug user whose name was on a list given by his village officials to the police. I could say that 4 days before the shooting, he went to his village hall to explain that he never sold and no longer used drugs. But that would be pointless—it certainly didn't make any difference to the men who tried to kill him.


I'd rather you pictured the day Danica was buried, after a storm, as her family and friends waded through murky floodwater to take her to her resting place. I'd like you to think how, under dark skies, her grandmother kept calling out her name and her little cousins wailed up a wall of grief around her coffin, as her grandfather wept alone in his hiding place, unable to say good-bye to the granddaughter he loved so much.

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