I am the Child, I am the Mother

Nini Mappo
Posted September 2, 2020 from Kenya
Photo by Saikat Mojumder, Bangladesh
Photo credit: Saikat Mojumder for WFP, April, 2020

 

 

I am that child, with withered skin and bulging belly

And sunken eyes too weak to look at mama

 

I am that child, who’s angry at my papa

For coming home empty-handed again

 

I am that child, whose mother cannot look in the eye

For fear of the desperation so often displayed there

With no food to quieten it

 

I am that child, who wanders from home to home at mealtimes

Hoping to be offered a bite

 

I am that child, who punches down her grumbling stomach

To ease the pain of hunger  

 

I am that child, who digs my wild fruits into the ground,

Lest I be forced to share them with siblings

 

I am that child, who’s too weak from hunger

To attempt the half - hour walk to school

 

I am that child, who’s dribbling over my desk

Mouth muscles too fatigued

To hold in the saliva

 

I am that child, for whom teachers have pulled bits of their lunches together

My survival being crucial

To raise my grade’s mean grade in the division exams

 

I am that child, who dropped out of school

To slave for food to eat

And feed my siblings

 

I am that child in conflict zone

Running for peace, security

Running into hunger

 

Without an income, without prospects

My health and survival depend 

On others’ generosity

 

I am that child

And today I look into my child’s motionless eyes

The flies hover and feast on her dripping saliva

She having not strength enough to swat them

 

As she lifts her eyes to meet mine

I hear the same silent accusation I uttered many a times

When the fireside remained cold night after night

“Mama, when will I eat?”

 

I shudder under that mournful gaze

For the first time I enter my mother’s grief

And feel her despairing hope

Turned towards a world too absorbed in calories

To empathise

 

I am that child, and for the sake of my child

I turn my eyes towards our world of plenty

In hope she'll change our story

 

In hope she'll share her calories

And give herself and us a chance,

At well-being  

 

Poem Inspiration:

Economic inequalities exposed by Covid-19.

Some in the world are 'suffocating' in calories, complaining of how much they're eating and gaining weight in quarantine and making food out to be an enemy. 

Others are hungry and starving.

 

 

 

This story was submitted in response to From Poetry to Paintings .

Comments 47

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SeemaKhandale
Sep 03
Sep 03

No words.... just tears in my eyes.....

Seema

Nini Mappo
Sep 03
Sep 03

I hear you Seema, it is a heart-wrenching reality :(

Hello, Nini Love,

You've painted a painful truth on this poetry. It aches. This is the reality we have to face.

This is a message of hope, "I am that child, and for the sake of my child
I turn my eyes towards our world of plenty
In hope she'll change our story"

So powerfully written, dear. May all our eyes see how the world is suffering. Thank you for writing this. Hugs, dear.

Nini Mappo
Sep 03
Sep 03

Indeed lovely, even in desperation there is a speck of hope. And we are changing the stories that we can change, and recruiting others to be agents of this change in the world.

That's right, dear Nini. That's why I love fireflies because even the smallest light shines in darkness. Have a relaxing weekend!

Prozoe
Sep 04
Sep 04

Beloved Nini

The sad reality we live in. Late night visits to family members who avoid preping the table for supper because there is one too many around.

My daugther once asked me,why does Lionel Messi get several million rands a month but it is said on tv that some children in Somalia have no food? Why can the money not be given to that family so that they can also buy food?

This dilemma faces us every single day, to have something to eat, to have some place to stay, to have a means to sustain both is blessings beyond what many can imagine.

Really, no words to express how painful this reality continues to be, especially on the African continent. Personally for me a reminder that where I come from, is not too far from where my neighbor might be.

A Very difficult read.

Nini Mappo
Sep 06
Sep 06

Thank you dear Prozoe, for giving this grief due weight.
Your little girl has incredible insight for her age :)

Charity Birla
Sep 04
Sep 04

Very emotional and a reminder to us...thanks for this poetic words

Nini Mappo
Sep 06
Sep 06

Thank you for reading with feeling, Charity.

Tamarack Verrall
Sep 04
Sep 04

Dear Nini,
"I enter my mother’s grief
And feel her despairing hope
Turned towards a world too absorbed in calories
To empathise".
This is the world we are here to change. A world with no poverty. A world in which this does not happen. Thank you for such a powerful and beautiful poem, a call to keep going on the road we need to take.
Deep sisterhood,
Tam

Nini Mappo
Sep 06
Sep 06

Thank you, dear Tam.

Regina Afanwi Young
Sep 04
Sep 04

Mini dear, What an inspiring write up you have here. Some are suffocating in calories, others are hungry and starving. Not far from us . in the same neighborhood. What a great reminder to be charitable.
Thank you so much and we hope read more of this from you.
Enjoy your weekend

Nini Mappo
Sep 06
Sep 06

Thank you, Regina. Yes, when I hear people complaining about how much they have to eat it infuriates me. In my culture, we say that is 'laughing at what sustains you'. These inequalities are terribly sad :/

Amonge
Sep 04
Sep 04

Dearest sister, the listen to that child,I know that child and I believe in you that with this poem that child will get saved from starvation because we now know the importance of why we should share,for that child needs what many of is feel they don't need or have in excess.
Its Amonge from kenya

Nini Mappo
Sep 06
Sep 06

Thank you Amonge, and God's speed in finding that child around you.

Lenina Rassool
Sep 05
Sep 05

Nini, this is heartwenching and so beautiful. Thank you for sharing with us. Keep writing.

Nini Mappo
Sep 06
Sep 06

Thank you, Lenina.

Andrace
Sep 06
Sep 06

Thank you for this touching poem, Nini. It is a world of inequalities indeed. A wake-up call to stir up the deep conscience of anyone.

Love and hugs,
E. J.

Nini Mappo
Sep 06
Sep 06

Thank you sister E. J.

Adriana Greenblatt
Sep 06
Sep 06

Nini, just WOW! This was profound: " I am that child, and for the sake of my child
I turn my eyes towards our world of plenty
In hope she'll change our story."

This is the power of poetry - this accessed places in me that just talking about inequalities cannot, thank you for this expression. Thank you for sharing your passion, your gift of expression with words - this is transformative work Nini. I also see in this the deep motivation to work for justice - from being that child, to being that mother to being that part of change in the world. Coming from a place where we talk about things you mention like gaining weight and forgetting the abundance, this is a stark, and beautiful reminder all at once Nini.
Thank you, and hugs from Montreal to you, and your family,
Adriana

Nini Mappo
Sep 06
Sep 06

Thank you, Adriana. I am glad to hear that you found so much value in this sad poem to express some of the cries of your heart.
Thanks for the hugs too :)

Adriana Greenblatt
Sep 07
Sep 07

Yes, your writing Nini is impactful - a reminder, a painful reflection and a hope - existing at the same time - that child is hope, your writing is hope in action - we are powerful. Thank you for sharing this beautiful expression, and through honouring pain,

Hugs
Adriana

Millynairi
Sep 06
Sep 06

Dear Nini,
This is beautifully written. The plain truth. "I m that child". The world is suffering and I believe there's hope for that child when we come together and purpose to stretch our hands out to touch the world and make a difference . Thanks for sharing dear.

Nini Mappo
Sep 06
Sep 06

Thank you dear Milly. I know that you already are hope for that child.

Mariama Kallon
Sep 06
Sep 06

Thank for sharing.
You are a good writer.
Knows how to play with words.

Nini Mappo
Sep 06
Sep 06

Thank you, Mariama, and for the compliments too.

Anuli
Sep 07
Sep 07

Thank you Sister Nini! It’s a reminder that there’s still so much to do!

Love Anuli

Nini Mappo
Sep 07
Sep 07

Thank you Anuli. There is much to be done on this road to economic equality.

Marie Abanga
Sep 07
Sep 07

Dear Nini,

So so soulful; what a pathetic reality?
You have a strong pen I must commend you on that
Light and love
Marie

Nini Mappo
Sep 07
Sep 07

Thank you Marie.
I hope that one day this pen will write of the radiance on this child and mother's faces...their changed reality.

Glory Chagama
Sep 08
Sep 08

You have said it all dear Nini. Its very painful and this is the truth on what is happening to our community especially those disadvantageous... This has actually reminded me on how important it is to think about others and share what we have.. I always hate to throw away food just because i know out there some people are suffering and in need of even that little food.

Nini Mappo
Sep 08
Sep 08

Thank you for reading, Glory. I am glad to hear that you are thinking of others and helping where you can. Even providing one meal helps a child's eyes shine.

Glory Chagama
Sep 08
Sep 08

For sure..

Isaura Diniz
Sep 08
Sep 08

Nini, my dear.
So emotional, a written portrait of a terrible reality, sadly.
Thank you for this,
Sending love to you.

Nini Mappo
Sep 08
Sep 08

Thank you dear Isaura. I pray that one day this child's eyes will shine with life and abundance.
Hugs and sparkles to you.

SUZAN
Sep 08
Sep 08

I don't just love this, I absolutely cherish your use of deep-rooted imagery. This is so thought-provoking. Thank you for taking us an awesome journey of what the real world is all about.

Nini Mappo
Sep 08
Sep 08

Thank you Suzan. I can't paint or draw, so I must depend on words. I'm glad that you could see the picture through the words.

ARREY- ECHI
Sep 08
Sep 08

Dear Nini,
A beautiful poem showing the stark reality of the world around us and the plight of those who do not have.
Beautifully written. It evokes a lot of emotions.

Nini Mappo
Sep 08
Sep 08

Thank you, Arrey-Echi.

Karinvk
Sep 10
Sep 10

Yes, we are all, in our hearts, with that child. It breaks my heart when I see food thrown away so easily in other countries.

Nini Mappo
Sep 10
Sep 10

Thank you, Karin. True, and that child will be the richer for it as we continue to carry her/him in our hearts.
My hope is that the common 'throwing away food guilt' will one day translate to awareness, and action in reaching out to hungry children somehow, instead of using their sad circumstances to remind our children to be grateful.
Thank you for stopping by, it's great to see you mingling into sisterhood:)

Justyneema
Sep 10
Sep 10

Merci cher Nini d'avoir partager ces mots qui retracent autant des disparités et inégalités du monde. malheureusement c'est une loi de la nature et on y peut rien.
c'est très touchant, merci et continuer d’écrire.
Au plaisir de vous lire encore une fois.

Nini Mappo
Sep 10
Sep 10

Merci, Neema. C'est peut-être une règle de la nature, mais nous pouvons encore la perturber avec une généreuse compassion, comme le fait le Programme alimentaire mondial, mais selon nos moyens. Même si on ne fait sourire qu'un enfant, pour un jour, c'est un jour d'enfance racheté de la faim. Il est vrai que nous ne pouvons pas aider tout le monde, mais nous pouvons aider ceux auxquels nous avons accès.
Merci d'avoir lu et laissé entrer le poème.
Continuez à briller où que vous soyez :)

Cat80
Sep 15
Sep 15

Beautiful ... we are all the child ... and the mother ... and the best way we can do anything to help our children is by being conscious, present, striving, connecting and demanding more for our children. Thank you for reminding me.

J Brenda Lanyero
Sep 16
Sep 16

painfully beautiful...sobs.

Anne-Chantal
Sep 16
Sep 16

A very picturesque piece. What a life we live. Some are throwing food and some are dying of hunger.
I did not understand it until i moved to Europe and I saw how people throw fruits , vegetables , milk.
And all this food waste blamed on the fact that the fruits are not perfectly shaped. Potatoes considered too bumpy, carrots not long and smooth as desired.
During COVID lock down here, farmers where dumping milk for lack of customers and I asked myself if this milk and all food dumped cant be refrigerated and used to fed the poor, the homeless.
My sister, you have raised a pertinent question.
I hope our world of plenty will stop complaining about calories and try to ensure that the excess is shared to those who won't mind having it.

JoOak
Oct 05
Oct 05

'mama , when will I eat ?'.
This got me tearing .

The sad reality , while some are suffocating in calories, others are hungry and starving.

I long for a world free from hunger and poverty .
I long for a balanced world where everyone have enough to eat , a good place to stay and good clothes to put on.
I long for a happy world / place for every living creature .