Silent Encounter with ‘Little X’

While in transit at the airport in Addis Ababa, I was allowed this beautiful opportunity
To embrace this little boy–whom I named ‘X’– in word, and in spirit.
I wonder now where and how he is, and just then I remember
I had immediately written about him;
So he lives right here, in my memory…

Mentally disabled kid. Roughly 3 or 4 years old.
Dressed in men’s muslim attire (Long top and trousers; beige in color).
He has on pale green rubber shoes, one of them carelessly unfastened.
Making circle motions in the middle of a crowd of passengers awaiting their flights,
an ‘invisible’ little boy carries on.
He makes faint noises to himself, or to whatever/whomever else is on his frail mind.
Everyone here seems oblivious to the little boy, X.
Seemingly asking themselves the same questions I am about
his family/care-takers, if any…
Or as I see it, convincing themselves that he is someone else’s problem,
and that person is right around the corner.
Airport personnel walk fast past him with a certain air
As if simply saying, ‘Oh, him.’

Finally, just as my heart begins to cringe with hurt, regret, guilt on his behalf;
Or just sheer fascination at the livelihood of little X, I see.

A hand grabs his, pulls him into line.
At last! Little X has a father and a few feet over, a mother too.
Whew!! Thank God!
My heart is put to rest; It follows behind little X,
Onto the plane to Chad and onward into space it goes…


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