Bless the child
My two fellow writers in The Hague became full-pledged authors with the recent publication of their memoirs.
Niamh Ni Bhroin’s The Singing Warrior is a haunting account that chronicles her journey on finding happiness after a past filled with sorrow. Niamh was nine when the father of her school friend raped her during her first sleepover. The nuns in her catholic school called her the whore of Babylon because she was left-handed. She writes about all the other abuses that follows and how she coped with it through her singing. It took her fifty years to face the demons of her past and resolve to live a life of happiness despite all the pain. It is a heart-wrenching story of resilience and strength.
Carolyn Vines is an award-winning blogger who writes movingly about growing up being a black American amidst the backdrop of her family’s economic and emotional hardships. The events surrounding her tragic childhood have influenced greatly how she perceived herself as a black woman travelling and living abroad -– and how those events somehow stand in the way of her fully embracing the graces coming her way. She writes all these in a matter-of-fact, retrospective way devoid of self-pity in her book black and Abroad. It is a journey of triumphant self-discovery.
Their stories and countless others are testaments to how our childhood shapes our choices and the way we perceive our identities in adult life. It also reminds us how the pains we inflict on children, knowingly or not, lead to lifelong scars.
No matter how grown up you are there will be moments like when you are standing at your kitchen sink and memories from your childhood will flash before your eyes. At times they are funny and they make you smile. But the worst kind are those that make you cry. Bittersweet recollections of a scathing insult an aunt hurled at you unendingly, a mother’s absence and that feeling of emptiness accompanying it, or a father’s unfulfilled promises. They all come in waves. Caught off guard, they feel as hurtful as the day they were inflicted on you. They lie down low but they never really go away. They linger on and stay with the child in you.
It continues on to this day. Somewhere out there are religions and political opportunists claiming to represent the rights of the unborn child proclaiming each sperm that unites with an egg must lead to ovulation and reproduction, regardless of the consequences. As if bearing a child out of poverty or of unfit mental state is a lesser crime. And what happens next? A six-year-old son is made to perform a lewd macho dance in the guise of comedy and entertainment in exchange for a quick buck. A mother, out of desperation, drives her children and herself into the river to drown. And behind every dictator is a deprived, traumatized or abused little child.
If we want to have a better world, we need to start by treating children right. Children deserve the best opportunities that enable them to become the best persons they can be. They deserve the kind of childhood that makes them look back and smile at their fondest memories. It isn’t right to burden them with our pains; they will have their own when they are all grown up. It isn’t right to make them work at such a young age; they will have to work for the rest of their lives.
Kahlil Gibran once wrote: “The things which the child love remains in the domain of the heart until old age. The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remain over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves.”
And so it goes too for childhood sorrows. So bless the child, honor her and give her a happy life.