Monday, May 14, 2012

Mag 117 — forgiveness



Sitting on either side of Manuela at the table, both boys were thinking the same thing. She was the latest arrival at the center and would be asked by the missionaries to offer the blessing before all the children were allowed to eat. She seemed in shock and detached and they wanted to warn her about the rule.

Hoi said, "You will be asked if you want to say grace before the meal."

Banjo added in a whisper, "It will not be a request, but an order."

Manuela smelled the fishy broth and sweet fruit in front of them. She was no longer starving because she had been given hard bread, rice, and juice while en route to the center, but the thought of fresh food made her stomach rumble. The sound reminded her of nighttime warfare in the hills miles from her father's house. She sighed, remembering how the faraway rumbling grew closer and closer, then shivered thinking about the end of her world.

"I will do what I must to survive," she told them. Her words held forgiveness for the boys who three months before had slaughtered her family while she hid under her cot — boys as young as Hoi and Banjo.


Written for The Mag: Mag 117 that inspired with the above photo prompt
(The Meal, Paul Gauguin, 1891).


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19 comments:

Brian Miller said...

ugh...what a hard reality they face...the killing of the family by the boy soldiers...sad...and yes there are circumstances where you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to survive....

mythopolis said...

Well written, but heart-breaking. I was reminded of the Rwandan genocide and the wholesale slaughtering of people in the conflict between the Tutsis and the Hutus.

Trellissimo said...

How can such a delightful image call forth such pain and sorrow? You must bee looking deep under the surface...

Rob-bear said...

We live in such a troubled world — the world of Manuela, Hoi, and Banjo. Most of us are well proceed from it. But once i a while we get reminders —insights — of just how close it is. For so many people.

Beautifully written, Lydia. Painfully written, too.

Bee's Blog said...

A beautifully written, sad piece. But so close to reality.

I too was reminded of Immaculée Ilibagiza's account of the Rwandan genocide in 'Left to Tell'. I've been fortunate in that I've heard her talk twice and have met her. Her ability, like this little girl, to forgive. is astounding. That can only be done through faith.

Grace said...

Beautifully written...you gave this depth and meaning ~ To share not only the meal but your open heart ~

A gem this is ~

Linda said...

A chance at survival by being compliant, how sad is that? Thank you for this gut wrenching poem. A place I pray, I will never need to visit. Thank you for sharing, Lydia.

jane.healy said...

Very stark Lydia

Lydia said...

Brian~ Child soldiers are one of the true horrors of our age. I'm sorry right along with you.

mythopolis~ Yes, that conflict among (too many) others. :(

Trellissimo~ Ya think?!!!

Rob-bear~ Thank you, Bear.

Bee's Blog~ Your comment brought a beautiful personal touch to this piece. Thank you so much for sharing that story.

Grace~ I'm honored you liked it.

Linda~ Many thanks. I hope neither of us ever has to visit such a scene (other than via donations that help).

jane~ I realize that. Sorry to be so behind in reading your ongoing story. I can't guess how many times I thought about it in the last days. Just so scattered. Will try to catch up with yours (and everyone's) posts this week.

izzy said...

You took it in a slightly different direction more war- mine was only abandonment.

Helen said...

Lydia, this is beautifully composed .. hitting everyone with impact.

Tess Kincaid said...

Oh this made me remember something I had long forgotten...on my first day in a strange Sunday School at age five...I was asked to say a blessing...it frightened the shit out of me...

Catfish Tales said...

This piece rings with an honest chill about it. Great writing!

Kutamun said...

She still shines in the sewer, thanks

Sue said...

Disturbing.
And well-written.

Lydia said...

izzy~ Still behind in reading.....be by soon.

Helen~ You are so kind to say that!

Tess~ Interesting childhood memory you have there. I distinctly disliked Sunday School at the exact same age and the feeling stuck.

Catfish Tales~ Wow, your comment made me smile! Thank you.

Kutumun~ What a splendid way to sum it up. Thanks.

Sue~ Yes. And thank you!

Tumblewords: said...

Chilling reality. Well said.

M Riyadh Sharif said...

Anything to survive... It's the harsh reality. It seems like we should add another part to the famous proverb: "Everything is fare in love and war". Though I feel it's a war indeed. "Struggle" might sound more perfect. Beautifully written, Aunt!

Lydia said...

Tumblewords~ Many thanks.

Riyadh~ Struggle, war, survival....it's a wonder that children in those places fare well in the slightest, given that not much is fair in life.
(Still missing you at facebook!)

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