What We loved: Letter to Daniel

From World Hum’s What We Loved: I recently reread Fergal Keane’s classic BBC dispatch, Letter to Daniel, in which Keane, who covered many conflicts, including the genocide in Rwanda, reflects back on all he’s seen as he holds his new child in his arms. He describes the view from his Hong Kong apartment:

“Outside the window, below us on the harbour, the ferries are ploughing back and forth to Kowloon. Millions are already up and moving about and the sun is slanting through the tower blocks and out onto the flat silver waters of the South China Sea. I can see the contrail of a jet over Lamma Island and, somewhere out there, the last stars flickering towards the other side of the world.

I first heard this dispatch back in the 1990s, long before I ever thought of being a father myself. And even back then, I knew this would always be one of my favorite pieces of writing. What’s even more amazing is that Keane says he wrote it in one draft with no rewriting, not to mention the way he suddenly saw everything clearly through a long lens, how he wonders what the point of all his work was while at the same time showing exactly what the point was. Coming back to this on the other side of parenthood, it takes on another layer of meaning.

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