January 26, 2011

It was a moment suspended.  Suspended in the day’s busy-ings about.  Between lesson planning and lesson giving; between book cataloging and book organizing; between child supervision and child reprimanding . . . came a moment.

The final school bell of the morning had rung, and streams of students and staff were making their way across the field, from classrooms to the dining hall.  As I walked, I noticed a lone little one ahead of me, stepping slowly and gingerly, while others raced past in their rush for the lunch tables.

Once near enough I slowed, and knelt to within earshot of his small frame.  Even as I asked if he was ok, my throat was restricting with an unplaced yet palpable fear.  Another child approached, asking him why he didn’t put his shoes all the way on.  He lowered his head and mumbled that he could not, motioning to the bandages covering his feet.  Then I saw that his hands and elbows were also covered, wrapped in bandages under which I could see hints of open wounds.  And I understood the need for the bandages.

For just recently I learned that this little one, new to us this school term, is just one of this country’s far-too-numerous children infected with that dreaded virus.  So a stream of thoughts went through my head:

Is he going downhill?  Is this a symptom of a decline?  Has his time with us so soon begun to near its end?

And even as my mind went through this series of wonderings, I knew that I could not stop to dwell on them.  All that we can do in life, surrounded by whatever our respective challenges and hurts may be, is to carry on.  To keep doing our jobs, living our lives, and caring for those in them as best as we can.

So I simply walked quietly with this young one to the lunch table.  I checked with the nurse to be sure he was under the proper care.  And then I went about the rest of the day’s business.

Later on tonight, after dinner, he showed me a plastic toy he had found in the dorm.  “Miss,” he began, looking up at me, “what does this do?”  I picked up the toy and investigated it with him—giving up eventually, as I could not actually figure out whatever the toy’s intricate workings were: too complicated for this librarian J  But we did what we could, then off he went for evening games with fellow dorm boys, bedtime stories, and bed.  And tomorrow morning we shall all begin again with the day, whatever it may bring . . .

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