I saw you on the footpath, eyes liquid, with baby hands and feet, outstretched palms streaked with things familiar to the gutters. Little boy of no words, only large eyes, brimming with the horrors of 3 or 4 years of existence. Already you've become an adult. you can cross roads without a thought, you're daring enough to sit in the middle of an arterial road, unmindful of the killing madness around you. Maybe the madness within you kills slower and deeper.
Why did you say no words? Why did you simply look at me? Boy of no sound, you've wrenched my stony resilient heart from its cage and torn it into shreds. You've shown me how much a part of an uncaring society I've become. You've shown me what a coward I am - you've destroyed the respect and the pride I had in myself. I'm below you, my little boy of unspeakable horrors in his eyes. I'm beneath your sister, who sits in the midst of the road, holding herself tight, arms wrapped around her fragile body, rocking to and fro, her sorrows destroying her body.
My little boy with the dirt-streaked face, you wouldn't hold my hand - were you scared I'd take you away? Were you afraid to believe that I could genuinely care enough to buy you food? Or were you angry at the pity that you imagined I was giving you? There was no pity my little boy - there was only emptiness and complete and burning shame.
You didn't get a morsel to eat, my little boy with an adult knowledge. Did you curse me for what I did?
Did you know to do nothing else when he delivered a stinging blow across your back? Did your baby back, scalded by the sun, hurt more than the hurt inside of you?
I know I can't wrench you from the vicious life you've been born into but I'm ashamed that I'm not even willing to try. I'm ashamed at my lack of will, I'm furious at my callousness and I'm mortified by my silence.
I'm mortified by my silence...
I once knew another little boy with baby hands and liquid eyes. He never felt the sun scalding his bare back because he had the best clothes money could buy; he never had cracked feet as he never walked on the ground. He never knew hunger as he had the choicest food to eat. He never had unspoken horror in his eyes. He never knew how to cross a road, he never got a stinging slap across his back and he was never the last to be fed. He was never speechless - but I am and I have been so all my life.
And I am mortified by my silence.
Little boy with the too-big shorts, do you have dreams? Do you dare to dream? Will you ever dare to dream? Will you know what love is? Will bitterness and resentment and hatred clutch your baby heart like a vice? Will you stop crying one day and never know tears again? Will you think of me and remember a soft promise of love and affection and protection and caring? Or will my face merge into the millions that you look into every day? Will you utter no sound for the rest of your life? Will you never trust?
Little boy with the gutter in your hair, tears in your eyes, blisters on your feet, burnt crisp by the sun, battered by hunger - will you never play and smile?