Willie got a lift to less than half a kilometre from his place of work. From the point where he got out of his friend’s car you can see the front gate of the premises. Half an hour later his employer tried to contact him, but there was no answer from his cell phone.

Willie was the most reliable of employees. He was always at work and always on time. He knew his products and was unfailingly friendly and helpful, joking with the customers. Many looked for him first when they needed help. No one who dealt with Willie would have been able to imagine the business without him. To most of us it seemed that without his friendly, knowledgeable service the business would have struggled to function.

There were signs that Willie was not happy. He hasn’t been since he lost all his chickens. Once before, he had left the area where he had grown up. On that occasion his departure was planned. All knew he was leaving.  He took up a job at the coast, but that did not last long. Within a month he was back, welcomed enthusiastically be his former employer and all his customers.

An engagement to his girlfriend followed, but that too was short-lived. “She dropped me,” he said. After that, he spoke less and joked much less.

Then came the day when he received a lift to work, but never got there. The business was thrown into confusion, his employer searching anxiously for a replacement that he hoped would only be temporary.

Willie’s state of mind was not the only possible factor responsible for his disappearance though. The crime in our area has been high by any standards. Theft of livestock is a daily occurrence, assaults and rapes by intruders are regular occurrences and there have been a few murders. It is possible that Willie could have fallen victim to crime, but not likely. He was dropped off at a little after eight in the morning in bright daylight.

There exists a time in the lives of most people when the pressures are too great and the reasons keeping you at home are not strong enough. A temptation just to walk away and not look back can become almost irresistible. The thought of starting again somewhere else, among other people, perhaps finding a new love, may hold the promise of rediscovering yourself and shrugging off the problems of the past.

Willie remains well loved among those who have known him, but one thing is certain: none of us fully understands what is happening inside those close to us.

Read about Willie and his chickens here.

A Disappearance