Dedicated to my brother Roy

Norma Nicholson, with Cheryl Antao-Xavier

 

Ten years old and my hunger burned

For food and love denied.

A small glass of watery powder milk

And two ounces of cheese

Nourishment received not at home

But in school.

 

Food withheld as punishment

Punishment for what? My child’s heart cried out.

 

Hunger for food, hunger for love

A constant yearning in a bleak childhood

 

Spirit dies a slow death

When starved of food and love

But for me, thank God, it was not so

For indomitable Spirit keened towards

Any ray of light

That broke through the darkness

Every ray of hope

That shone on the hopeless

 

Spirit saw and thrived and remembered

 

Remembered the dark day in the life

Of a ten-year-old with a gnawing hunger

Running with a flask of coffee for the teacher

Running and running, so as not to be late

Falling. Smashed flash, spilled coffee

Running back home

A child’s heart pleading to the Universe

To be given another flask, another chance

But the darkness of evil in a guardian’s soul

Knew no mercy, knew no compassion

Acted with inhumanity

Tied my child’s slight body to a tree

So tight I could not move

 

Left me to stand all day

Without food or water

Darkness and despair settling on a young soul

 

But then

A ray of light from a torch

Split the darkness

A small voice whispered hope

Small hands cut the ropes with a knife

A little brother

Led me to shelter

And shared half his supper

 

That act of kindness kindled hope

That has shone in memory through trying times

That act built purpose, solidified resolve

To be the ray of hope

Shining on others

In their hours of darkness.