One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write storeies during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working in the research department at Amnesty International's headquarters in London.
There in my little office I read bastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.
Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to speak against their government. Visitors to our office included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those who they had left behind.
I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him back to the underground station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.
1. inform sb. of sth.
eg. They would inform him of any progress they had made.
eg. Please inform us of any changes of address.
2. have the temerity to do sth.
eg. He has even had the temerity to invoke the names of Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X in defence of his actions.
3. speak against
eg. I will speak against anything I know to be wrong.
eg. He spoke against me behind my back.
eg. A guest can't speak against his host.
eg. He had the temerity to call me a liar!
4. leave behind
eg. I don't want to leave anything behind.
eg. He left behind an immortal example to all posterity.
5. inflict on/upon
eg. Don't inflict damage on any person.
eg. The punishments inflicted on the children were too severe.
eg. Otherwise we shall certainly inflict upon you very severe punishment.