The doctors have done a great job. Three times that I had to undergo surgery and was feeling legs moving again. Three times I had to fly to Grootfontein and back as Grootfontein offered better conditions to reconstruct my limps. The doctors had to remove part of skin and patch up the bullet wounds. At least I could now move my legs but the disfigurement was ugly and the scars were permanent.
That beautiful athletic figure was permanently disfigured, but at least I was alive.
As I started recuperating I also started becoming more and more aware of my surroundings, my new environment and the people. One day as I woke up I heard two men speaking in Portuguese, "Capunda is dead... pisou na mina." The man with the bandages who arrived a day before was telling the other men who were equally in bandage and in great pain. They were exchanging news of the war front
Hearing of the death of Capunda send my body into a cold shiver, I almost dug deeper into the bed. Capunda, Miguel Angelo was a great friend of my father and our families have lived at Chiede for years before the war. Capunda's father has set up couple of shops that he inherited. During the first SADF invasion in 1975 Capunda abandoned his land rover near the school and took off on foot.
On the arrival of the SADF, they too tried to start the Landy and when they failed they set it alight
After independence in 1975 he became political commissary for Namacunde and my father became the director of "loja unica" in the socialist system. My father and Capunda met occasionally and often travelled together.
Capunda has shown an outstanding leadership during those years between 76 to 80(today one of the neighbourgood in Namacunde is named after him.
The men breaking the news was Dudu, the lance corporal in 32 battalion, he was talking to his comrades. The news brought fear deep down as I thought of my father. Ever since arriving Oshakati, despite the physical pain I endured, the though of my family's safety was just as painfully. The unknown is painful and it breeds fear.For fifteen that was to be my companion.
I stayed on my own most of the time, the hospital staff were friendly and the interaction with other patients cordial.
My next move was to start with physiotherapy and hopefully getting discharged. Suster Venter(that's how I recorded the name back in that time) was a tall blond woman who treated me like a son. As soon as a was out of the hospital pyjamas she brought me some some clothes and every morning and afternoons she would take me for physiotherapy. Because one of the bullet tore through my knee, taking off part of my kneecap my leg would curl and get very tight if not in motion. To straighten the leg would take few painful seconds. It was during one of this painful exercise that I met Jose Miranda the medic from Golf company.
Being at Oshakati military hospital as a child must have raised many eyebrows, although I was not the youngest and curiosity took the best of many and when some of the patients discovered that I spoke Portuguese they immediately drew me to their camp. I was fluent in Oshiwambo and Portuguese and having done pretty well at school despite constant interruption I could read and write.
Jose Miranda started his military career at the age of 14 back in1960s as part of the "movemento de libertaçao" in northern of Angola where he became a medic and eventually became a medic in one of the platoons in Golf company in 32 Battalion. He was also a patient at Oshakati, with bullet wounds in his leg. After seeing me doing physiotherapy he joined and took over from the nurse and since he too needed physiotherapy, it became mutual. Soon more people joined in and friendship was born.
In 1974 Jose Miranda moved from the northern part of Angola to Novo Rodondo as part of strategic move of ELNA, here he met a woman who became his wife and had a boy but almost a year later with the outbreak of the war he ran South, leaving his wife and child taking only his brother-in-law who was about twelve.
Somewhere along the way he became of the Bravo group's 76.
We started playing cards, I learned to play seweka and with that support I walk quiet well despite a pronounced limp. One day as I was walking around I came into a tent that was turned into a ward. The light was dim and as I walked in silence descended upon the room like a school teacher walking into the class. All eyes were upon me.
The disturbing silence told me that something was amiss. Walked in politely and took my seat upon my bed. The eyes following me.
"Dino, you must not go back to Chiede," a voice amongst the men in the said, "you were luck to have survived. Next time you might not be so luck."
Beside I did not know if my family have survived. I did not know that these that hardly knew were contemplating about my fate. But if I was to discharged from the hospital were else could I go. At the age of none I made my first adult decision.