Grandfather required two canes to walk, to upright himself after bending at the waist, to rise from a chair. By mid-afternoon, the taxis rolled into the rank where he had been silently, patiently roasting in the harsh autumn sunlight.
His two granddaughters, perhaps five and six years old – brimming with that juvenile excitement and eager energy possessed only by those recently freed from school confines – descended unaccompanied from the kombi and searched the taxi rank fervently.
He called to them softly; his voice accustomed only to speaking words softly.
Their ears piqued. The girls skipped toward him, backpacks bouncing, school skirts flouncing behind them, heels kicking up small clouds of dust.
‘Tennnnn-TION! He cried in a soft voice as they neared.
Grandfather caught them with his legs, patting the tops of their heads and pressing their small bodies into his own to keep from leaning down too far.
He began to march, as softly as he spoke, his feet never quite leaving the ground. The girls mimicked him, embracing the game. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, up, down, up, down. Never forward. Never backwards. Just soft. Even.
For the briefest of moments, the line that separates imagination and reality blurred. Grandfather lifted his canes together in one hand, high above his head.
Marching softly. Free.