Grenfell Tower, June 2017 – Ben Okri

By October 13, 2018Blogs

I could not get that burning tower out of my head. Bearing witness seemed the only thing to do. Three days after the fire I made my way there. Many years ago I used to live nearby and the tower was always in my periphery. I saw photographs of the dead before I saw the tower itself. Their faces were everywhere. They stared out from the undeniable reality of their lives. They were alive when those pictures were taken, alive like you and me. There were pictures on ordinary white paper, with their names below, sometimes their ages, and then the word MISSING. At that time their families still hoped they would be found. Seeing those faces on the wall, faces that were fresh with life, faces that were serious with a sense of the insurmountable problems of life, faces of a young couple that showed them happy and in love—I was quite overcome. Even before I had walked a few yards, I was already fighting the tears.

Acknowledgement – FT 8 June 2018