• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 01

When Fear and Loathing Burn So Bright

Gazing over her shoulder our progress resounded like the bugle’s ‘Reveille’ at dawn. Ten solid months of consistent nurture and finally her soul was reawakening. More animated, her chubbier face glowed with a shy confidence. “Are they real?” In contemplation she rests the gnarly bitten pencil alongside her drawing. “I mean here, not extinct.” My nod is gently reassuring. It smacks of decades of training, counselling and teaching. My young protégé had framed the symmetry, all that fabulous fur camouflaged as a gentle cat. Yet we knew how in one twist of the heart a purring feline could pounce in betrayal.

Kefira waited earnestly. Her hair slipped across her face. That scarred face. Silvery wheals a barbarous sign left by her persecutors. I carefully pull back her hair. “May I?” Untangling strands my fingers nimbly braid. Kefira fidgets, kicking off her donated leather shoes and with slow deliberation adds more detail.

“So Devira, if he is real, as you say… Is he free or caged do you think?”

It was then that I noticed her eyes burning with focus, those next tentative strokes were her star, that star of Bethlehem. In our first break-through session that was all she would draw. Drawing and humming, “Twinkle, twinkle little star.” She’d tell me of the rockets, the blasts, the rumbles and the increase of suffocating choking chaos. Someone else noted down her nightmares.


When Fear and Loathing Burn So Bright

What life line were we for such vulnerable children? More than a resident art therapist: a receiver and giver of trust and barely stopping short of a Mother Theresa. But for this vulnerable alien, who flinched wild eyed, trust and safety were still beyond her lexicon. Orphaned, or so they say. But who is to know with so many refugees. A zoo trip, now that would provide a dose of awe and wonder.

I gazed upon the eye of the tiger. The hairs on my arms rose. Check for signs, is the mantra at every weekly team meeting. Are they stable, safe for being moved to a foster family? Are they balanced and well adjusted? Her anger was burning out with each session. Or so I had thought.

A helpless victim, a battling survivor, a wily thriver it’s not so easy to tick a box. How much baggage can a child carry? Bag. Age. As if we carry more as we march through life. But do we start with nothing? We have genes, inheritance, values, hopes beliefs, and then we accumulate even more stuff: fears, memories, isolation. When we die do we leave empty handed, dust to dust?

“I am a snow white tiger…with wings.”

My image of a savage snarling tiger-dove was burnt to ashes when with renewed vigor she coloured the tiger’s mouth full of dancing amber flames and her tiger’s kernal filled with stars.

Was she ready, with her art portfolio and her ‘songs of innocence and experience’? Humming, “Twinkle, twinkle” I closed the file. My submission notes are inconclusive.