April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Real-life Fables: Grandpa's Story

By Clyde Compton-

Editor's Note: Although fictional, Clyde said this story's message still rings true.

"Grandpa," I pleaded as he slowly walked to his favorite chair on the porch. "Tell me a story."

As he reached down and gently set me upon his knee, he began. "Child, there are some people who believe that we live not only one life in this world but many, and I for one know that this is true."

My first memory of life as we know it was sitting atop of a wild and powerful mare where I rode against the wind in a beautiful and untamed land. As a American Indian life was free of any restrictions except to live life to the fullest. Gliding along the edge of the forest I marveled at the beauty of such a serene and quiet land. Suddenly, as I crossed through a glade a sight came before my eyes that I will never forget. White men, as far as the eye could see were approaching my village. My heart pounded in my throat, I turned the powerful mare around and raced against time to warn my people of the upcoming disaster. As I crested the hill overlooking my village of many years, tears streamed down my face like the waterfall I swam in as a child.

White men, numbering as many as the leaves on the trees, were randomly slaughtering every man, woman and child in the village. With a prayer to my ancestors I raised my spear and rode to sure death - Screaming for them to stop every step of the way.

I suddenly felt a burning in my side and fell from atop of this beautiful horse never to ride again. Looking up into the heavens with my last breath, I could only simply ask "WHY?"

Sadness filled Grandpa's eyes as he stared into the memory of things that will no longer be. "Next," he says softly. I have the feeling of hanging in mid-air with the ropes cutting into my tender wrists. I knew that the whistling of the whip meant that soon the tremendous pain in my back would engulf my whole body.

Time after time I heard the voice of destruction descend upon my young body. Freedom I had thought belonged to everyone, so all I could do as a young black man was to run to the sun. As the beating continued I slowly slipped into a coma with my mind racing back to happier times in my life. Silently walking under a hot African sun in the savage land that was my home we lived a quiet and peaceful existence. Manhood in my village was shown by being able to survive in the world alone.

Tingling with excitement I knew no one my age ever brought back a lion's skin on their very first try but I was determined to do it. Tracking a lion is not very hard, but living to tell about it was another thing. Suddenly, to my left, out of the glade a lion appeared and with one mighty throw of my arm the spear pierced his majestic heart. Overcome by elation I failed to notice the group of men who leapt from behind the trees and clamped strange metal things around my wrists. Dragged unmercifully through the jungle, I was forced upon the largest boat I had ever seen.

The whistling of the whip suddenly brought me back to reality. After my dream I knew my only regret was that my family would never know that I was the only one to kill a lion on the first try. With the life ebbing from my body I look one last time into the sky and simply ask "WHY?"

Reaching out to accept the glass of lemonade, Grandpa's hand trembled not only from his age but because he was speaking not only from his mind but also his heart.

"Do not prejudge any man because you never know if he is prejudging you."

Finally Grandpa's voice trailed back to normal and with a deep sigh he said my final memory of another life, except for this one I was crouched in a dark closet in the dead of winter. We could hear the clicking of the soldiers boots as they systematically searched house-to-house for anyone who was not considered part of their supreme white race.

I, as a very small child, was too young to understand why the word "Jew" brought out so much hatred among these people. Where my father and mother used the word with gentleness and kindness, some of my fellow playmates now used the word to taunt and humiliate us. Suddenly, the door was yanked open and we stood face-to-face with the soldiers, some of whom we, not so long ago, called friend.

Many years of torment and persecution had left my father, once a very strong but gentle man, down on his knees begging for mercy for his family. Unrelenting, the soldiers dragged me away from my family, never to feel the warmth of my mother's arms again.

Herded into a very large truck I looked around and saw the despair in the eyes of the children my age and I felt the weight of the world upon my tiny shoulders. After what seemed like a eternity the truck stopped in a compound surrounded by a tall barbed-wire fence. Ordered into the showers by soldiers with faces but no names, our young minds could not conceive the cruelty and savagery that was about to happen.

"Clean up" we were ordered by the soldiers who had suddenly disappeared from sight. Trembling from not only fear but weariness we turned on the water to the showers but, the only thing that came out was the sweet smell of gas that quickly made breathing almost impossible. As I heard the final screaming of many children in agony ringing in my ears I looked one final time to heaven and asked "WHY?"

Barely above a whisper my Grandpa held me close and said "Man has always made up prejudice from fear of that which he doesn't understand, but with children like you maybe someday a person will only have to live one life to find peace."[[In-content Ad]]