Ode to a Period of Economic Transition

Before I was yours I was nobody’s child. I sat in my cot and watched as people came and went. They gave me enough food to survive, but that was all.

One day you came and got me; loving me at first sight because I was beautiful and a baby, nothing more than that. You took me home to your privileged life, excited at the prospect of your gaps finally being filled. Don’t you know that you can’t fill a hole with something that’s empty? You loved me even more when you discovered that I never cried and stared at you with the biggest eyes you’d ever seen. Finally you’d achieved what you were supposed to and you drank me in, your dream child.

Six months passed before you noticed something wasn’t quite as it should be. I never cried, but likewise I never laughed or responded to your embraces.

“Smile, baby, smile!” you pleaded. “Give a big smile for Mummy!”

Motionless, I stared at you with the biggest eyes you’d ever seen.

Another six months passed with you in denial, not noticing when both children and animals at the park fled from me as I sat unsmiling and wooden in my swing. You were always popular, so the day not one of the twenty children you invited to my second birthday turned up, you knew something was wrong with me.

That’s when the testing started. Doctors tested me for every syndrome, spectrum, deficiency and disorder they could find in their diagnostic manuals. The results were inconclusive. I was plied with medications, therapies, treatments, counselling, conditioning, reinforcements and retraining. The results were inconclusive. Instead, I stared at you with the biggest eyes you’d ever seen as the list of developmental delays grew. I was almost three and not walking, I was almost four and not talking, I was almost five and not toilet trained.

“Smile, sweetie, smile!” you pleaded. “Give a big smile for Mummy!”

I ignored you, but a month later I was fluent in both your language and the language of the country where you found me. Two months later I was reading. Still I didn’t cry or smile.

“Smile, honey, smile!” You’re getting desperate.

Every night you read me a story and told me you loved me. It was easy to spot the moment you stopped meaning it. Your voice tightened and you didn’t ask me to smile anymore.

I didn’t mean to kill the kitty… I just wanted to see what it looked like when the light in her eyes turned off. It wasn’t that interesting, so I didn’t do it again.

I lived a level of existence you’d spent decades and tens of thousands trying to achieve. Fearless and attachment-free, I existed. No matter how many workshops and retreats you attended, or how many books you read, you’ll never be able to let go like I can.

One day I’ll be a CEO, or a world leader, or maybe a famous celebrity. Then again, I might just die in the gutter tomorrow. It doesn’t make much difference to me.

Like any faulty merchandise, you took my back to the place where you got me, and left me there. The other children are still afraid of me, but I’ve found that with a smile I can make them do whatever I like.

The country of my birth wasn’t perfect, but was that a reason to call her evil? Was that a reason to drop bombs on her? Was that a reason to dance with joy when she fell to her knees? You blame my degraded mother, my perverted father, but where is your responsibility in all this?

I sit on my bed and watch as people come and go. They give me enough food to survive, but that is all.

To fill your gaps, you write a book about me.

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