Many years ago while working at a paediatric hospital, I came across an adorable newborn laying awake in his cot. Under a cosy hat, he had a head full of dark hair and wide, curious eyes.
A bright yellow onesie drooped and sagged from his tiny body and his limbs were folded up, in the charming way that only newborns can manage. ☺️
As I peered down at him, I noticed that his skin was speckled, almost as if someone had splashed him with dozens of little brown paint drops or perhaps dotted him with a marker from head to toe.
Nestled in his cot, he gazed up at me and I was overcome with gratitude and relief that he was found in time; that he was now safe and being cared for.
This helpless, nameless child was found in a gully; a nasty place full of garbage and sludge, where rats lurk and every kind of filth abounds.
Miraculously, his faint cries were heard by a passerby who fished him out of the muck, wrapped him up in a teeshirt, and carried him to the hospital.
It’s not known how long he was out there in the cold, but he suffered terribly from multiple infections, and his skin was covered with angry insect bites.
As I stood by his cot taking in the sight of this tiny defenseless infant, I felt a deep sense of anger and revulsion for his caregivers. How could anyone be so callous as to abandon an innocent to that wretched place? To just throw him away like that? A precious, priceless little person discarded. I was appalled and disturbed.
A similar story
Reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara earlier this year left me emotionally drained yet completely captivated.
It's hands down, by far, the heaviest book that I have EVER read (and I've read my fair share of heavy books). It featured weighty themes and extremelyyy graphic content. The reading experience was an unhappy blend of cringing and crying.
Jude St. Francis, the protagonist of the novel, was abandoned by his mother by trash cans and left for dead.
Without a family, Jude is exposed to all manner of abuse and tragedies at the hands of wicked 'caregivers.' He is left with deep emotional (and physical) scars that affect him for the rest of his life.
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart was the feature of last month's book club. It
follows the life of a young boy named Shuggie and his dysfunctional family living in poverty in 1980s Glasgow.
His mother Agnes is an alcoholic who struggles with addiction throughout the novel. She leans on her children for financial and emotional support and Shuggie and his older siblings are left to fend for themselves as well as take care of her.
Shuggie's childhood is marked by a lack of parental attention and care and he suffers abuse from others as a result of Agnes’ neglect.
Children are without a doubt the most vulnerable demographic, entering this world completely helpless and dependent on others. They rely on their caregivers for everything from food and shelter to love and protection.
The importance of parental care and attention is emphasised in both books as well as the consequences that arise when this care is absent. The impact of its absence ripples through life and can have devastating effects.
When a child is abandoned, they become vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and a myriad of other dangers. It's akin to leaving a helpless creature out in the open for vultures to pick at or hyenas to swarm.