Night at Mamou

Night at Mamou ~ Poems by Mamou Academy alumni, West Africa

The halls are empty except for three hurricane lanterns. Our parents tried to prepare us for this moment by telling us all the neat things that would happen to us- new friends, a good education, and their imminent return. Nothing, however, can prepare you for this ache. The full extent of the awful truth will not hit you for a while, but it will. You have been orphaned. The people to whom God entrusted you have abandoned you. It hurts like hell. At one end of the hall you join the newcomers in heart rending sobs. You have been told not to cry, but you do anyway. Quickly you find out that the smallest infractions carry terrible consequences, but for tonight you are allowed to sob.

The other end of the hall is silent. These children are used to abandonment. It doesn't hurt as much; partly because repetition has put a callus on that part of your heart that cared about abandonment, and partly because you know that the abandonment is complete. There is no one to comfort you, no one who cares. There is no arm around you, no neck to hug, no lap to sit on, and prayer to comfort. You are on your own, and no amount of weeping will change that. So, tonight, one end of the hall breathes with uncomprehending sorrow, the other end sleeps quietly.

Bob Neudorf, Mamou Alumnus