5th March 2015
Funnily enough, there came a time when Bink asked me for this script of my Thought the next day. Someone must have told her about it.
Even funnlier enough, I never got round to giving it to her.
Which is strange indeed, given that I must have written it for her.
Every so often, stories in the news bunch themselves into clumps of such wickedness that everyday goodness seems out of fashion. From child abuse on an industrial scale to the story of one gorgeously pretty, bright little eight year old, killed by her own mother when she came under the spell of a sadistic lover who saw the child as a threat to their relationship.
Ayesha Ali, brown eyes trusting, smiles adorably up at the camera. Yet her mother Polly Chowdhury came to believe that Ayesha was infected with evil spirits and had to be destroyed; and that she, Chowdhury, was receiving messages – in fact posted by erstwhile neighbour Kiki Muddar – from fifteen make-believe characters telling her to punish the child. By the time poor little Ayesha’s body was found, starved and almost naked, she had nearly fifty injuries including a bite from her mother. Muddar and Chowdhury have now been found guilty of manslaughter.
Amidst all this unbearable suffering, there was one detail I found particularly heartrending. Little Ayesha had written notes. Bad enough that she imagined her friends “having a laugh, watching telly whereas I am just sitting here... writing to myself.” Worse, she went on, “I have learnt that I have to change. I WILL CHANGE, NO MATTER WHAT! If I am rude, nobody will like me. Being thought bad, naughty and mean, it’s getting to be very upsetting.”
Ayesha believed, as any child would, that her suffering was her own fault. “I’m letting my family and Kiki down. I don’t like hurting other people... I’m gonna make sure I change.” A neighbour heard her pleading with her mother that she didn’t want to be bad. She had also written a list of what she’d done right, eating her jam sandwich on time; and a far longer list of her sins: “huffing and puffing; pulling faces.”
The cruel truth was that there was nothing Ayesha could have done to change the way she was treated. Her mother’s behaviour was not in response to anything in hers.
Paradoxically, this is exactly what children need. A child’s most fundamental requirement, after physical necessities for food, clothing and shelter are met, is the knowledge that she is loved unconditionally, no matter how she behaves. That his parents will never waver in their adoration, whether he achieves much or little. That regardless of anything we do, how naughty we are or how good, we are doted on by our parents.
Not because you were numerous, God says to the Hebrew people. Not because you were righteous. Simply because I chose you. You can’t win God’s love, Paul explains in his letter to the Romans. You don’t need to.
Like the love of God, the proper love of a parent outlives any behaviour. Even the worst of the worst can still be loved by his mother.
It is the one human affection which requires absolutely nothing in return. You don’t need to do anything. You don’t need to be anyone.
I simply love you because you are my child.