The following is a recount of a shocking event which includes a drowning.
Gendarmes and paramedics gathered on the opposite shore as the divers in their red wetsuits took to the water in search for her.
We did not know who or what she was as we watched in confusion from our house.
We had heard a commotion some 15 minutes earlier, but under the heat of the oppressive sun, the sounds blended into the backdrop as if part of the usual soundtrack.
The opposite side of the river is too often the bedrock of loud voices, screams and disorganisation, as a motley crew descends on it daily, to use its shores as a recreation ground for afternoon drinking, dog training and leisure swimming, among other things.
Our side, in comparison, shelves a rocky bank, and is only accessible from the water.
Our side is the deep side.
Where the water is darker.
Children always swim from the opposite shore to us and clamber up the rocks looking for suitable jumping spots.
Children run along the craggy edges, shouting and leaving rubbish in their wake.
Children are generally a nuisance in that way. But tolerated.
My own childhood was similarly tolerated by the then weary adults when, with friends, we also would hunt for spots along other rivers without care for whether we were on private land or how much noise we were making.
The exquisite joy of discovering the perfect place from where to launch ourselves into water holes, is a feeling I recall with a grateful fondness. A such, it is our turn to tolerate the children and their rites of passage.
But our side is the deep side where the water is dark.
It is what is appealing about it.
Children shrug off warnings.
They watch, wide-eyed and with admiration, the bigger ones swim in lean swift lines across the flow, reach our jagged brinks and jump!
They hear only nagging from their mothers.
Yesterday, their cries blended into the repetitive squeals we have become accustomed to. The ones we ignore so we don’t feel constantly irritated by them.
We went about our business as usual and only as we gathered at the back door, ready to lock up before going out, we noticed a silence.
We looked on for minutes.
There were no words as the scene, familiar in its archetypal form, unfolded with a strange choreography.
The gendarmes in blue,
The paramedics in white.
The divers in red.
Like a somber tricolour of the flag, flying in the wind
A strange dignity and a respectful quiet…
The divers, heads beneath the surface , swam up and down, as if in slow motion.
The clock was ticking.
We left the scene.
I shook a little.
My tears burned beneath my eye lids. We struggled to explain what we did not know. Distracted, I searched online for the news. The explanation was there, in words written by a journalist.
A mother had ran into the water after her 2 children who had been caught in the current and were unable to escape.
Others came in after her as she struggled too.
The children were saved.
The mother was not.
The divers were searching for her body. She had not resurfaced.
Much too late, they found her, lifeless.
A mother died
Our side is the deep side where the water is dark.
It is treacherous, it is sinister, it is tragic.
I want the river to be closed.
I want there to be no more voices.
I want time to grieve, despite never knowing these people.
The river is beautifully serene this morning. The birds chirp and the cicadas rattle and life takes no notice.
How many others before her?
The river is infinite
How many will follow?