I AM still trying to process the news that NewsDay senior court reporter Charles Laiton is gone. You awed me big time. I always marvelled how you regularly travelled to your home country of Malawi, at least once every year.
In fact, I envied you, the majority of Malawians I know have strong connections with your homeland. With my paternal grandfather having come from Malawi, I was disappointed that my family seems to have completely cut ties with its Malawian origins.
And in our talks away from work, you always promised to take me to Malawi one day in the journey in search for my Kundeni roots. Hopefully, this would have happened after the COVID-19 lockdown. But tragedy struck when we least expected, and all those sentimental dreams have gone down the drain.
Is it not a marvel that I first met you when I was a junior reporter at the then Daily Mirror, and you were a court interpreter at Rotten Row, as the Harare Magistrates Court is commonly known. Then you would alert us of interesting stories.
Years later, we would meet, me as a lecturer at the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA) and you, as a student, after your decision to cross the floor to journalism.
A few years down the line, our paths crossed again after I moved to NewsDay in 2010 and I found you there, as a court reporter.
And you would dominate that beat as if it were your own, rising up the ladder to become a senior court reporter.
And it was you who would introduce me to the corridors — and personalities — of the High Court. It was your playground. And your hunting ground for some of the finest news stories ever published.
Like any mortal, now and again, you would battle ill-health, but I never thought — and would never have believed even in my wildest imaginations — that the darkness would set in so soon, because you would always defeat those bouts of sickness and bounce back! You were a strong man.
But death is such a coward! We will live to cherish the memories of the good times shared through the years.
Indeed, it is appointed for a man to die once and after that, the judgment, like the good book says. Perhaps you have exhausted your allotted time or maybe you have been snatched away from us before your time.
Whatever the case may be, may your soul rest in eternal peace. And may the spirit of God comfort your wife and children during this terrible time. Till we meet again. Fare thee well Laiton.
Phillip Kundeni Chidavaenzi