Friday, 11 March 2011

Tales from Argentina – The Accident

In the late 1950s my sister and I were at boarding school, Dad worked as a ceramics engineer and Mum earned her living by teaching in a school and also by travelling around Buenos Aires in a very old car, giving private English lessons to children whose parents couldn’t afford to send them to a bilingual dual-curriculum school.  This took her all over the capital, which at the time would have had a population of some 8 million people (it is now 13 million), from smart downtown, to humble areas, to residential middle class and back again.

One afternoon she was driving through a modest suburb and out of the corner of her eye saw a child of about 7 playing with a ball on a 6ft mound of builder’s sand which had been left by the kerb.  As she approached him, he suddenly ran out into the street to retrieve his ball and to her horror went smack into her car.  She heard the bump of his little body against the wheel arch as the ball bounced across the road out of reach.  She hadn’t been going very fast – the old car, a 1946 Vauxhall, could only limp and clatter along at the best of times. 

Vauxhall 1946
(our car was just like this, only in worse condition...)

Very distressed she leapt out of the car and the child was lying still, with blood coming out of his mouth and an arm at an odd angle.  She rang the doorbell of the house, and when the child’s mother appeared, she quickly explained what had happened and asked her where the nearest hospital was.  Surprisingly the mother wasn’t angry with Mum, though she was clearly upset about her son.  “I keep telling Ricardito not to play there”, she said. 

In those days the ambulance service would only have arrived in reasonable time if they had been in a downtown location – in this remote suburb they wouldn't have stood a chance.  The situation was too urgent for this, and between them they picked him up carefully and put him in the back of the car.  He came round and was able to talk to his mother as they drove to the local Clínica, where the little boy was assessed.  The bleeding had been caused by a broken tooth and split lip, and his arm was broken.  Both were dealt with efficiently by the Clínica and Mum stayed with Ricardito and his mother, later driving them home. 

She was of course very relieved that the child had suffered no serious harm, and at that time there was no such thing as suing for injury, but the guilt stayed with her for a long time and affected her confidence on the road.  At first she visited him every couple of weeks to see how he was getting on, taking him toys and sweets, and as he improved it became a monthly routine – his mother seemed to appreciate her visits and the cake she would bring.  Mum – ever the teacher -  talked to the woman about education.  Was the child at school?  Was he a good pupil?  The mother was evasive and talked about her financial problems, and eventually on one of her visits asked her for money.  Mum never carried much cash on her, but gave her what she had, and thereafter it became an unspoken thing between them – she would visit and leave some money when she left for her to spend on the child.

She realised she had got herself into an uncomfortable situation, and by the time Ricardito had eventually recovered altogether, she had turned full circle and was relieved to be able to make the decision to stop visiting, though her route to her English pupil  took her past their door every fortnight.  The woman made no attempt to contact her after that.

Some weeks later, 6 months after the accident, Mum drove past one day, and there was Ricardito, playing with his ball on the mound of builder’s sand, which was still there.


Photo Finish:
from Lonicera's photo archive

This and that, here and there

(The top 2 are digital, the rest are not)
I've shown this one before, but I was pleased when I lightened
the foreground trees in Photoshop and discovered their lovely
autumnal colours - so here it is again. 
(Río Colorado, Province of Río Negro, Argentina)

Reducing the glare in the sky was not very successful -
it made the pampas grass look a bit dull. (Argentina)

This picture had been left in the box because the strip of beach was dark - I was pleasantly surprised when lightening it turned it into such a nice image.

Cropping the foreground got rid of the unsharp areas of
shallow water and improved the picture no end.
(Fuerteventura living up to its windy name)

Cropping made this picture



Jen from Oregon said...

I enjoyed reading that. Thanks for sharing. Now I wonder what became of him?

Lonicera said...

Thanks Jen - if you had asked my mother that (she could be stern sometimes, not for nothing did she make a good headmistress), she would have said "not a lot if he didn't go to school"... Welfare as such only started in Argentina in the last decade, so I dread to think.

OneStonedCrow said...

Great story Caroline - and the amazing thing is that a few months later the kid was playing ball on the street again ...

... one of my greatest fears is of having an motor accident involving a child ...

13 million people? - omgoodness! - that's about seven times the population of the whole of Namibia - and quite scary to me ...

Sandy Lee said...

What a sweet story.

oozyxena said...

Hi Caroline, it certainly makes you think, your poor mother felt such guilt and sadness over an accident and the boys mother clearly must have not been to bothered to allow her son to return and play in the same place, if it was my child and I had found out he was playing in the same place after being told not too I surley would have broken his other arm for disobeying me. (only kidding about breaking the Childs arm) well......

Zena xxxxxx

Lonicera said...

Thanks for your comment Graham - so the one million population of Bristol where I live would be considered a large city in Namibia I guess. It sort of doesn't feel like it here.
Thanks Sandy - I have several more stories to tell, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that readers react in the same lovely way that you have.
Zena, how lovely to hear from you! Long time no something-or-other, and I'm so delighted that this means you glance at my blog from time to time. You might even take up blogging again one day...

Vagabonde said...

What a story – it really shows how education is important. It does not look like the mother of the little boy thought that he should be educated. Your pictures are lovely. Last year my husband bought me Photoshop Element but I have never used it. I know I should take the time to learn, but I have not been able to find the time yet.

Lonicera said...

Vagabonde - being such a photographer yourself, I'm quite sure you'll be glued to your computer once you learn the Photoshop Elements basics! I too have Elements (6), and there aren't courses to teach the older versions, so I'm having to teach myself. I'm not interested (at this point) in being creative, I just want to correct. I haven't learned much, but what I have is giving me such fun.

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