Butterflies on the Wall

Image

It is just a wall. 
Plain and cream.
With a tree. A river. Flowers. 
With dozens of little butterflies painted on.
Each butterfly has a name and a date under it. 
Name – of a child. 
Date – when the child died to become a butterfly. 
All had become butterflies after they died of AIDS.
All of them contracted it from their parents.
All were abandoned or are orphans because of AIDS.
 
I saw the wall years ago. I never can forget it. I never can get over it. 

There is a lonely wall in a far far away land
A land of promise, of incredible and unimaginable riches
Where the earth regularly belches up 
Women’s best friends from tiny unassuming niches.
 
The wall is part of a room in the middle of a conspicuous nowhere
Where eyes are perpetually widened spotting big game
Clueless and immune to the many miserable little ones 
being stoically enacted without the balm of fame.
 
The room is in an artificial village of necessity and need
Where butterflies flutter having no wild in their fate
But live as tiny splotches of color on a shared sacred wall
With a unknown name and a heartbreaking date.
 
This room has mothers who have borne not a single child
and yet have ten creatures they hold, all the while admitting
That they wish them a poignant goodnight and goodbye 
Every night, not knowing which is more befitting.
 
This village is in a country which sees millions every year
White, black, yellow, brown merge as one ignorant soul
But different from tiny faces the color of mocha 
Carrying a dark demon within them eating them whole
 
When the country meets the village as it must sometimes
A heart will fall for a suffering blameless face
But the morning will come again and it will look but find
Once again it is gone without a trace.
 
Maybe the village will hear the cries of – Where did he go? 
Maybe a search among the proxy mothers standing tall
But if that heart keeps up the futile search, it will find
Mocha face with the others -A paint blotch butterfly on the wall.
 
Advertisements

Construction workers, Big buildings and One smile.

Was at a construction site today and the usual parade of women carrying mud was passing me when amid the adult women there was this little boy( I assume) walking past carrying a little plate with mud on his head. He was imitating his mother accurately right down to the walk and the swaying of the hips. 
 
She walked past me six times during the period that I stood there and every time the little boy was walking alongside her with his little load. There was a big satisfied smile on his face that spoke nothing of odd hours, skipped meals or bad pay packages. It spoke nothing of aching limbs, persecuting heat or unwashed clothes.
 
Image
 
What it spoke of was – unbridled enthusiasm and heart warming optimism.
 
Like this was the most respected, best profession in the world. To match his mother step for step and carry a little bit of her load. 
 
Surprisingly seeing a shabbily dressed kid doing a minor degree of manual labor (just for fun)- I felt none of the cliched emotions that you normally do. 
 
I didn’t feel pity at all. 
 
I didn’t think of child labor and feel all self righteous. 
 
I didn’t feel like grabbing him and putting him into a snobbish school with a pompous uniform and a schoolbag heavier than him.
 
Instead, I felt something akin to envy. 
 
I offered him a polo mint. In return I was rewarded with a smile that could have put the sun to shame. He looked content. Blissful. He took the mint, popped it in his mouth and was on his way to complete his chore. 
Image
 
Only a child can know what it feels like to have the capability to love a plate full of mud and only an adult can know what it feels like to lose.