I embarked on a serious begging campaign for the AFC for the 2015 election campaign. I specifically requested non-monetary items. The cache was wide and impressive. I got computers, cell phones, micro-wave oven, blenders, a huge refrigerator, plenty food items, sleeping bags for camping, etc.
I am not at liberty to disclose the donors, all of whom would not like to be identified for obvious reasons – business people’s fear of being in the bad books of our political leaders, many of whom are morbidly vindictive – remember the PPP government and the trench-cleaning outside my home? Remember the APNU+AFC government and the street lamp outside my home?
Before I come to Jude Bentley’s generosity, let me describe one of the most hilarious incidents in my begging campaign. I went to the owner of this large import firm. He gave me a few cartons of foreign beverages. The same day when the stuff was put in the fridge, the AFC’s office staff and the road campaigners killed themselves with laughter.
They asked me to drink a bottle of the stuff. That thing was close to being as unpalatable as poison is. He could not have imported that stuff for sale. Even the homeless folks would have refused that stuff. I subsequently found out that the importer was a huge PPP supporter, so he was deliberately cynical.
There were two famous bicycle stores on Robb Street between Orange Walk and Cummings Street, directly opposite the animal clinic. I went to both. Both gave me a cycle each. That was when I first met Jude Bentley. Those cycles were intended for campaign workers at the AFC office, but they brought a huge quarrel between one campaign worker and one of the security officers. The campaigner took one of the cycles to do a personal errand and kept it overnight. A fight almost broke out.
The two cycles, since the 2015 campaign finished, are locked up inside a large container that still sits on the parapet outside the AFC’s head office. I am assuming that those things are not rotting beyond repair.
It would be nice to refurbish the one Mr. Bentley gave me and place it somewhere connected to him, a reminder of what a generous young man Jude was. The problem is; I don’t know which one he donated to me. If the young brother who is always in the shop with him can identify the model the firm imports, then we can identify which of the two he gave me.
I didn’t speak often to Jude Bentley after April 2015, but I did see him regularly in the National Park with his cycling team. Last December I met with him when I went to repair my bicycle at his store. I gave the repair guy a tip. But it was when I went home, I realized it was the Christmas season and I should have given a much bigger tip. I went to the store and couldn’t find the repair man. Bentley is always at the counter. He shouted for the fellow and told the guy, “look this big man wants to see you.”
Last month I went again to Jude’s store to buy a bicycle. The National Park authorities banned me from leaving my cycle in one of the guard huts, so I had to leave it in the open, where, for the whole of December and parts of January, the elements damaged it.
I bought a new one, and asked Jude if he could get one of his workmen to remove the plastic covering that was tightly pasted over the cycle. He called a little fellow about eight years old to do the job. This little chap was the splitting image of Bentley. I am assuming it was either his child or his nephew or a close relative. That was the last conversation I had with Jude Bentley.
My condolences to his family, relatives and friends. I hope the AFC issues a statement expressing gratitude for the bicycle.
I end with a few lines from one of my favourite Sarah Brightman songs, “Winter in July.”
“Future dreams can never last
When you find yourself still living in the past
Keep moving on to higher ground
Looking for the way you thought could not be found
We may not know the reason why
We’re born into this world
Where a man only lives to die
His story left untold
Make the best of what’s given you
Everything will come in time
Why deny yourself
Don’t just let life pass you by
Like winter in July”
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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