I was cleaning out some old files recently, when all of a sudden a business card twirled downwards. I picked it up.
“Pakman”, it said.
I instantly recognised it as Luke’s card.
I met him back in 1998 in Zimbabwe, during a business trip. Luke was a white Zimbabwean of my age. He worked for the client I had accompanied. A lively fellow, full of joy and with a sparkle of mischief clearly present in his eyes. If you would have opened a dictionary and had looked up ‘laid back’ Luke’s picture would have been smiling towards you.
Zimbabwe was a different country back in those days. Harare was still a clean, modern city with huge buildings, stocked up stores, Internet access, expensive hotels and the likes. Tourism still was an important source of revenue (game hunts, anyone?). You could travel the country and witness its wonders (balancing stones! nature! artists!). Yet there was a clear hint of a huge storm to come with Mugabe slowly going marbles (his anti-white policy having been launched).
It was in those circumstances that I worked with Luke. Having an evening off, we spent it cruising in and around Harare, putting “Ghetto Superstar” on loop, going for a pizza, having a drink and talking away about life, the universe and everything. We made (vague) plans about organising a road trip, going through the country on bikes.
A year later things changed. The political storm had arrived and hit Zimbabwe badly – with the disastrous results we all know. Luke turned out to have some issues (which goes to show there is a dark side to everyone) and the ties between my client and Luke got severed. Throughout the following years, his name still popped up occasionally in conversations until time’s teeth did their gruesome work and he became nothing but a vague souvenir.
Until I saw his card. My curiosity picked, I immediately googled him. And presto! A website of a Zimbabwean art gallery, presenting Luke’s work. With a picture of Luke. I always find it strange how your brain wires back to memories which you thought were erased a long time ago: the very moment I saw his face, I recognized him. I started a trip down memory lane…
… until I noticed it. “1972-2009″. No way! I enquired around and, sadly enough yes was, Luke’s passed away some two years ago. In tragic circumstances. Barely 37 years old. A true waste. Darn.
Here’s to you, Luke. Thanks for the memories.