Kambili is feeling exhausted, she can barely find the energy to walk back to the camp. The other kids are looking at her, she is their beacon, but, today she cannot possibly help them. She finds it extremely hard to cope with the day. After 10 hours spent working she feels empty. Who is she? What is she doing? Is this the life she is doomed to live for the rest of her days? My hands are sore, she can hardly move them. Her fingers are swollen, her middle and ring finger are half crooked. Calluses, calluses: lifting stones, digging, bending, pulling, pushing, have wiped out any sign of innocence. Have her hands ever looked like the soft hands of a western child? Look at my hands. Don’t look away, they are here. Can’t you see them? Don’t you want to see them more closely?
Her rumbling stomach is a furious lion, roaring. It is expressing ancestral anger. Trembling, shaking, quaking, tottering, heaving: a never ending movement, an incessant sign of her rage, wrath. Why me? Why me? Why us? I am only a child, I want to be a child. Please, let me live the life of a child. Being born here or there, here in dreary conditions or there in a cosy dimension, it is not an issue of “deserving” it, but a pure matter of luck. Coincidence, spiteful coincidence. If I had been begotten there, not here, what would my life be like now? Tormenting, torturing questions. You damn fool, stop this sadistic game of unanswered questions. You afflict yourself with questions nobody can reply.
She still remembers the day she was sent away from home. A chasm opened up in the middle of her chest. Pain, dreadful pain. Fear, benumbing fear. Powerlessness, smothering feeling of being trapped, caged. Her parents could not support her any longer. Another kid was on its way. There were too many mouths to feed and no money. She was old enough to find her own way. She had to. Sent far away from home, to a remote place, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by caves of stone, digging for a piece of bread, of stale bread and a lousy bed to lie on. Other kids were there, lots of them. A swarm of unblessed creatures. Perhaps she was luckier, wasn’t she? She wasn’t the youngest. There were kids who were a few years younger than her and they had already been sent there. There, there, a gaping inferno, sweltering hot, aching bodies covered in sweat, parching tongues, dried to the very root. We are not human anylonger, we are animal-like shadows, bodies moving automatically to the orders of domineering and indifferent adults. I was born human, but then I was denied any human existence. Water, water, I need some water. I want to take a bath, I want to get washed. My clothes are soaked in sweat, they cling firmly to my body, they are my second skin. I feel the urge to rip them off. I want to free myself from, from… I am so very tired, I am… I am invisible. I am… I am struggling to survive. I am… I am on verge of exhaustion. I am a vanishing weary soul. Soul? How can I nourish my soul when surrounded by loathsome living conditions? Ruthless adults, after me because I can fit holes they can’t get into. Who am I for them? I am a nobody to them, but I am somebody to Kari, Omtu and Krum. They rely on me, they seek refuge in me. My very existence is meaningful to them and so it becomes meaningful to me too.
Now I want to read your literary production!