You know how terrible it is when you’re stuck on a bus or airplane with a crying kid? Headphones don’t block it and sleep doesn’t escape it. It is true torture and you order a vodka with ice – only – and even that doesn’t cut it. You turn and give the mother one of two looks:
a) quickly fleeting pity mixed with discontentment or b) stern gaze of judgment and hope that somehow your luke-warm or cold sentiments will alert this mother that her toddler is throwing a fit; as if she isn’t at her wit’s end already.
Well now take that wailing baby, minus the AC and the comfy seats and the ability to order ice out of the equation. Turn the child’s shirt inside out, without pants and undies, smear crap all over its face and hands and replace the mother with another filthy child only 5 years the toddlers senior. Then, maybe just maybe you’ll understand what I wake up to and fall asleep to every single day in Mali. Small children, aimlessly wondering, crying like banshees, with no caretaker, sympathy-giver or hand-holder in sight; weeping, walking, lonesome and surrounded.
There is no mother to judge, to flight attendant to get sympathy from and no exit sign reminding you of your destination. There is only crying children and pounding millet and donkey fights and grumpy old me and dirt and sand and hot water.