For around 20 years, Brandon never left this island. The island that he once came to as a visitor. And here we are now, with this unique opportunity, visiting him. Brandon..A British soldier who first set foot on this island fifty years ago, searching for spiritual freedom after his suffering during the wars. Onboard the armored vehicle that was taking him to the airport to return home, a breeze of fresh air unleashed passed his face bringing back life to his heavily worried heart. A breeze that made him realize what he is missing. And a similar breeze blows on his face on the shores of   Seychelles, specifically on the Mahe Island..

He goes to its shore and right by the beach, a little local boy comes to him and asks :
{ “Do you want to own an island in Seychelles?” “Yes, how did you know?” I answered playfully. I was just joking. He said “Let me take you to your island.” And here he is, taking me while we face each other and talk in his small boat to Moyenne.. Once I set my foot in that island, that same breeze passed through me, the breeze that visited me in my previous days when I was a soldier dreaming of freedom. Taking a deep breath, I said to myself : “This is my island. I will own it one day.” And that is what actually happened, I bought it from its owner and lived with my friend Charlie who shares the same hobbies as mine, and helped me sow my beautiful land. I lived and am still living a beautiful life here; I never felt loneliness like I did when I used to sleep alone in the camps as a soldier when my colleagues go home to their families at the weekends. In Moyenne Island, I am surrounded by nature, we tend to chat in times of loneliness ..

And from the one hundred twenty five turtles, the oldest of which is almost seventy years old; I get my source of living.. tourists from around the world come to see them and to meet me. }

He is eighty seven year old. However, in spite of some slight bow of old age, he still has a straight figure that tells of pride and struggle. He walks slowly as if he is counting his steps. What got my attention was his long fingers.. almost double the length of his palm, with frozen ends, as if it was a spading fork used to plow the land of his Island, Moyenne, in which he said he planted twelve thousand trees and plants.. Before that it was a semi waste land with no people and no greenery.

 I was also taken aback by the size of his feet, that were bigger than normal human feet, with diverging fingers as he was often barefoot, using these fingers to cling to the rough land of which he was an integral part. The last three fingers in his feet seem as if they were merged into one, with skin grown in between like the wings of Seychelles bats. Brandon starts his speech very gracefully and tactfully after I greeted him on behalf of my colleagues and asked him to talk about himself. He moves from one subject to another without any interruption. He goes on about rich memories full of events. “I have a mango tree planted by Ms. Mary who used to own the island one hundred years before me,” he said.. “And Here I am now, picking its fruits that will be ripe next February. Whenever I enjoy their taste, I talk Mary’s spirit and tell her how I wish she was enjoying the fruits as well. Whenever its fruits are ripe, almost a thousand bats come attacking it and drinking it’s mellow juice..

 and I would come out shouting as loud as their own screams telling them that they are welcome to swallow whatever you want but “please don’t bother me with your annoying noise as you fight!”.”

In his island, he buried his late father who came from England and lived with him almost for five years. We saw his triangle-shaped mud tomb which he dug in anticipation of his death, telling his friend Marvin “If you happen to come to visit me some day and didn’t find me, i will be lying in my tomb waiting for my death.” He dug it next to two other tombs that bear no names and were unfortunately for unknown people.

Brandon never got married.. He regrets that because he didn’t have the gift of having children. He said with teary eyes : “A friend of mine who was a very simple man was diagnosed with cancer. And he had a dream of going to Thailand. So I took him there to fulfill his dream. That night we stayed up watching a soccer game on TV and I fell asleep. When I woke up, I found him awake and I asked him, are you ok? He said “I want to prepare a cup of tea.|” So, I hurried to honor his request and suddenly he stood up and fell on my chest. He died. That was the saddest moment I have ever felt. My lifelong friend is gone.” I wanted him to change the subject as I didn’t want our conversation to become sad.. I said, “Mr. Brandon, allow us to say this. When we visited your island and got a bit thirsty, your friend Marvin, the tourist guide, offered us coconut water from your coconut tree. He showed us how to crack them open the traditional way as he crashed the fruit on a pointed wooden base implanted in the ground. Their juice tasted like honey, something I haven’t tasted before, not anywhere in the world.” He laughed and sat back relaxing in his chair and said, “I will put Marvin in jail for his ugly crime.”

Brandon is a jovial soul, with captivating  conversations. When I asked him at the end of the meeting what advice he has to offer me, he said “Be yourself, and be as you would like to be not as others want you to be. You are a good, kind hearted lady.” I then asked him what present I can offer him, he laughed shyly, and after considerable effort he said “I have long been trying to find someone to help me in the island work as I am getting old. However, anyone who comes would want to go back daily to Mahé, the main island, and the cost of a daily shuttle in the boat is too much.”

His smile was something I could never forget. Brandon, I am glad to have met you. I wish you a nice evening. Seychelles, You have given us unforgettable dreamy moments.
Six months later, i receive a message from my friend in Seychelles who introduced me to Brandon. A letter full of pain and sorrow, saying that Mr. Brandon was diagnosed with cancer and he is now in his last days , spending them with his friend’s family in the main island, Mahé.

 My eyes welled up with tears as I remember him seeing us off few months ago and saying “See you next year if I happen to be alive.” Did he say that because he felt that his death is approaching ? after losing his close friend? Did he wish for death in that tomb he has long prepared in his own island? The reader may wonder why should I be so attached to Brandon. His soul has controlled his mind to take the decision that he wants to take, not what others want him to do. This is what attracted me to his thought. He reminded me with the character of the life-loving Cretan Zorba. I can’t forget his advice, “Be yourself, and be as you would like to be not as others want you to be.” I tried to call him many times in his illness to see how he is doing, until one day he answered, murmuring words that I didn’t quite understand. I tried to remind him of me but the disease seemed to damage his mind and concentration. He just repeated these words, “Church, car, people, sea,” and I didn’t understand the rest of what he was saying. Then the line was cut. The next day, I received many calls from him and when I managed to answer the call, I welcomed him and he roared “Why don’t you put me some soft music to hear right now?” The request puzzled me but I realized that it was just hallucination. I didn’t have any device beside me to play the music he wants, until my friend helped by offering her mobile, and the first thing we could find was Pink Martini’s dreamy song, La Soledad. He listened to it as I am hearing his sighs and feeling that he is moving with the music. The call came to an end at the end of the song .. I felt that this was his last wish before death. A few days later, I received the aching news.. Brandon has passed away. He was buried in that same tomb which he had dug; a small funeral, as he wished, with a few close friends.

I felt so sad, Brandon, and I prayed to the Lord to grant you peace wherever you are, because you were a symbol of peace and love to nature, people and animals visiting your island.
Seychelles people have wept for you as you were their source of blessing.

Photos Taken by Jenan

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