It is a stunning spring day. There is not a cloud in the sky The birds are busy preparing nests for their precious eggs. The ocean is flat and glistening as you walk along the cliff edge. A feeling of contentedness washes over you. One of those fleeting moments where you feel grateful for your life. You are happy to be alive with the warm spring sun on your back and your faithful dog by your side.
Lately the media hype has been getting to you. You worry for your children’s future with all the “boat people” and refugees beginning to arrive in your homeland. You were born in this country and you feel protective over what is yours.
The lucky country has been good to you and your family. You believe your country hardly has enough to care for its own people, never mind thousands of foreigners that might take jobs from you or your children.
As you continue walking you begin to work up a sweat. It is early morning, you of course meet the usual suspects down at the beach as they gather for their daily ritual swim. There is nobody else on the cliff walk. Just the way you like it, the dog, you and the big blue sky.
As you come closer to the top you notice a woman pacing up and down quite close to the cliff edge. She looks as if she is talking to herself.
She wears a black scarf over her head. She is dressed in a long flowing blue skirt and a black top. This is a very unusual sight. Most people you meet on this walk are joggers out for their daily exercise.
The woman stops at the edge of the cliff. You can see the toes in her sandals actually hanging off the edge. Your heart is in you throat. The sound of its beating fills your head.
No no no, she is going to jump, you say to yourself.
She stands petering on the edge looking down. She holds her hands together as if praying, she is mumbling words you are unable to hear.
You do not want to startle her. Your instinct is screaming to you that you do not want this woman to jump. You do not want to see her die. What could be so bad?
You quicken your pace to reach her. She does not hear you despite the sound of your shoes scraping on the small rocks. You are now within ear shot of her. She mumbles in a language you do not understand. It sounds like a prayer. She says it over and over again. She looks agitated and upset. Tears fall down her face.
Suddenly she stops praying and looks out to the horizon. You see her lift her leg.
You calmly say “Please don’t jump”.
She rests her foot back down onto the solid earth. She slowly turns her head.
You plead with her “Please do not jump”. She is silent. Her face white like a corpse.
You move closer to her , she is within arms reach. She looks terrified.
“I don’t want to hurt you”, you say in an effort to comfort her.
You ask her why she wants to die.
“You would not understand”, she replies irritated. She speaks with an accent.
“Perhaps not but I am willing to listen”
“I have lost everything” she tells you ” My husband was tortured to death in my country, now my children are gone, she fades off….
“Where” you ask
They are gone…..she looks as if she is in great pain …..the boat” she answers weakly.
It is an ordinary life you lead. You don’t have much. However, surely you can help this person out? You have never before met or even spoken to a woman wearing one of those scarves on her head.
The desperation on this woman’s face is something you could never ever walk away from. You would forever be haunted by her petrified eyes.
The pain of loosing everything dear to you does not bear thinking about. You may have said some things in the past that probably would greatly offend this person. This human being standing in front of you who is about to kill herself in the most dramatic way.
It is then that you realise that when people are desperate, they will do anything to stop the pain.
They will jump off cliffs, they will chance travelling long distances on very old boats with their precious children. Boats driven by criminals who have no value for human life.
You have a chance to help this woman right in front of you. This woman with her toes hanging off the edge of the cliff.
Most of us are kind and compassionate people. Willing to help others in need. It is a blessing that makes us human. If you stop and see the pain many must endure just because of where they were born, you would help them.