||April 17th, 2008|
This is one of an occasional series of columns from Desiree,
serving an orphanage in the Republic of Uzbekistan, (formerly part of the USSR).
In my last taxi ride, I was given two new jokes, complimentary of course. One went something like; “If you want to see heaven in Uzbekistan, turn on your television. If you want hell, look around Uzbekistan.” – The joke though at first funny, is rather sad and a clear image of life here as seen from the locals.
This week at the "Q" (Q Orphanage), two mothers brought in their children for placement. I never saw either mother, but one of the children- a boy of about three years old could be heard wailing inconsolably. Unaware of what had happened I walked outside to assist the worker who was pushing the stroller out of which came tormenting screams. Before I could even ask, the worker shrugged her shoulders and said, “A new one. The mother left him.”
My reaction was to hold him. I took him from the stroller and held him. The worker was more relieved than the child. His cries persisted, her stress lessened with my company. He could not be calmed. His eyes clinched tight, as tears streamed ceaselessly soaking his cheeks along with the excess drool, the consistency of grief. I held him, rocked him, and talked to him. I could not tell him that it would all be okay. I did not have words to answer for such an act of rejection. I only wondered how it could be that this child could love his mother so much, feel such security with her and that she could not offer the same. If she decided he was not smart enough to provide for the family or not physically capable of supporting them, could she not see that this child knew love? Isn’t that the best gift? Isn’t that a miracle? That one could love so much and we see it as not enough?
After quite awhile, he began to calm. His crying stopped and in such a way I thought he had stopped breathing in my very arms. His body limp, I checked for life and I was in one way relieved. He had fallen asleep. The worker continued talking to me and then pulled the neck of her blouse down to show me where the doctors had removed her breast because of cancer. She lamented at how she could no longer afford the medication that was prescribed for the next six years and how she hoped she could live long enough to see her daughter through school. She glanced at the motionless boy in my lap and decided it was time to take him indoors. She explained the procedure, “He will be fed, given a drug and he will sleep. In the morning, he’ll wake up and today will be forgotten.”
I don’t know that I’ll ever forget it.
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