There she stood two feet tall,
Once an imposing edifice burnt to the ground.
Long dark locks and a blackened frock,
Held her ragged doll one soulful eye and a smock.
Two footprints in the ash that cloaked everything,
I thought I heard her sing, it might be the sad song of my heart.
She walked towards that hearth,
All that she knew was forever lost.
There he stood two feet tall,
A burning hut and a body in a pool of blood.
Mother. Get up. But his screams were unheard,
He held her finger in his hand and asked her to take him home.
People everywhere running for cover,
He stood on the street beside his mother.
It was a song of horrors untold,
Someone pushed him to the ground.
It was a blur of people, orange white blue,
I ought to hear their voices thought I,
As quiet as midnight on a moor.
Down that garden path she walked.
I saw all but the tears sliding down her cheeks.
She bent down and picked something up,
One tiny hand held a locket of gold, the other held a doll ragged and old.
I watched her as she stood up.
And there she stood two feet tall.
He pulled himself up muddy and bruised,
All of a sudden everything lit up,
Just as it appeared the light was gone.
But there was no one standing two feet tall.
She came to the clinic hop skip jump. She looked at me and smiled I couldn’t help but smile back. She had a name and a face and a story. She knew she might not live long enough to get her first real kiss, to fall in love, to become a teacher like she always wanted.
He was in a hospital bed when I first saw him. He was covered in blankets had chills for almost a week now. They were treating him for tuberculosis(twentieth century plague) they treat him for a fungal infection, they treat him for any infection they can think of. The outline of his bones visible through his skin. I went in to update some files. There are times when we ask ourselves why me. And this boy with leukemia taught me it is you because you can take it. Because you can fight. Because you are stronger than you think.
He sits there quietly beside his uncle. His dad got him to Bombay for treatment. They are a family of 6 living in a room where if you open your arms wide enough you can touch the walls. Travelled from a slum in Calcutta to Bombay. And lived with his brother(who has a family of his own to care for) for months. They wanted to know if the kid could go home and get treated there. The cost and diagnosis both uncertain. He sits quietly beside his uncle.
Her mom tells her she will tell the doctor to shift her to a room where the tv works. She says no we were given this room we shouldn’t ask for more. A seven year old with eyes reddened due to a bleed and one tooth missing is more mature than I will ever be.
He asks the doctor when his hair will grow back. He says everyone teases him at school. He says do what you are doing for my hair this time it might work.
I saw her a couple of times in the ward (swarming with paediatric patients) I never spoke to her. She was transferred to the ICU and she died last night. They die. She died. So many like her die. But why can’t we stop doing what we do for a minute and tell their story like they would want it to be told.
Their parents barely make enough for a days meal and a roof above their head. Don’t pity them or their children. They have stories that will pale your best ones by far.
Their ship might be sinking but some of them will get to shore. And maybe, just maybe she gets her first real kiss.