Heart Bleeds


She strokes her daughter’s hair, as her head lay on her lap. Gently following the curve of her hairline, her fingers caress her young, unblemished hair. As the train rocks her from side to side she gently sings their favourite song. “Mummy loves Divya, yes she does, Mummy loves Divya yes she does….” As her daughter sleeps her mind wanders to happier times. Memories so beautiful. Her daughter playing with her little brother, the dinner time banter, and that time her first tooth fell out and she was so worried she would spend her life toothless! Oh the hours of assurance she needed to calm down about her teeth! Blessed child. She smiles at the memory. Tears stream down her cheek. Silent tears, silent pain.

The train stops. More passengers cram into the grimy carriage. She wakes her daughter and wedges them both against the window, hoping the air will cool their sweaty faces. The journey is long. She wishes it was longer. Her daughter leans her head against the window her hair billowing as the air rushes past her. Her daughter dreams flights of fancy as she gazes listlessly out the window. Hopes and dreams of a little girl. Dancing. Twirling. Giddy laughter. She lets them go, one by one, she offers them to the wind. They are not hers to have.

Slowly the train comes to the end of its tracks. Its engine turns off. The journey has ended.

She lifts her daughter to her feet. She grabs her daughter’s little cloth bag filled with memory trinkets. The little stone she used to put under her brother’s head while he was sleeping just to annoy him, the pressed flower her mother gave her in celebration when she had her first menstrual bleeding last month, the hair band her best friend gave her when she said goodbye. She placed the bag over her daughter’s shoulder, grabbed her soft fragile hand, and lead her outside.

Gripping tightly to her daughter through the bustling crowd she leads her away. With each step her resolve weakens. Her feet become heavy. She can’t look at her daughter, she keeps her eyes ahead, trying to be strong, for her daughter’s sake, for her family’s sake. They walk together in silence. The world around them, the ringing bells, the cars, the shouting, the sounds of India merge into deafening silence as they walk helplessly to their fate. The fate of so many.

Her heart tears, her breath leaves her. They arrive.

Her eyes become vacant. The depth of her pain is death to her soul. She is no more.

She bends her knees to the ground and places her hands on her daughter’s shoulders. She chances a look into the eyes of her daughter. They weave their pain together in their last embrace. Beauty dies.

Without words, she tilts her head to the side, indicating to her daughter to enter through the metal door. She follows her in.

It’s dark.

He shouts “bring her to me”.

The daughter steps toward the man, and turns back to look at her mother, pleading with her with brave silent tears. Her mother looks to the ground.


She tilts her head in sorrowful agreement. He thrusts the money into her hand and shoves her out the door.

She sinks to the ground, vomit rises as she tries to purge herself of her grief. She pounds her chest, she mourns.

Hope dies.

John 13:35 NIV

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


29 Clarity.png Authors note: I’d like to introduce Kevin for those of you who haven’t met him. Kevin is a man who sits on the streets of Kolkata. He begs. He pops up from time to time.


Sometimes clarity is a bitch. Like when it bites you on the bum at the supermarket.

As tragic as it sounds, I found myself excited by the prospect of a new supermarket opening in my neighbourhood. Yeah, sure it is the same as all the other surrounding supermarkets, selling the same produce at the same price, but this one is new!

Wide clean isles, boxes and jars aligned perfectly in rows, a bounty of fresh produce in plentiful supply, the latest in trolley design and cash register technology. It's like stepping into an artificial universe. It is… perfect. Except for bloody Kevin. I push my not annoyingly wonky because it is new trolley through the fresh produce aisle. I see Kevin sitting in the corner, wishing someone would throw him an apple, even a blemished one. Get lost Kevin. I start to feel nauseous. The perfection of it all, the over abundant supply, it starts to make me sick. Is there something wrong with me? I wondered.  “Nice trolley” says Kevin as he sits slumped on the wooden trolley he is wheeled onto the street on every day. I notice the ergonomic design of my trolley handles, moulded to maximize my trolley pushing comfort. I feel a bit dizzy. Is this real? Is there really a place as perfect as this for me to purchase to my heart’s content while Kevin sits on the street in Kolkata and begs for his own survival?

I happen upon the pasta sauces and browse the 12 different varieties of the same sauce, trying to decide what sauce I feel like having. I start to feel a bit anxious, I get a bit teary in the pasta sauce isle, no one notices, I just blend in with all the other depressed shoppers. I wonder what would Jesus say to me? Is this ok?

Of course it is. It must be.

For goodness sake can’t I just buy my baked beans in peace Kevin? Do you have to follow me everywhere? WHAT DO YOU WANT??

What are you trying to say Kevin…..?

“Remember me.”

My friend Jen and I went on a girl’s trip, of sorts. We are both a bit weird to be honest, although I’m certain Jen outranks me in a big way on the weirdometer. Anyhoo we decided, as you do, that we would visit Bangladesh together. This was the first time either of us had visited this part of the world, and it was a life changing experience. Jen has since gone on to create a hairdressing training school in Bangladesh that trains women/girls and gives them relief from their grinding poverty. I, on the other hand, am hallucinating in supermarkets…. Hmm perhaps I’m tipping the weirdometer scale…

Anyhoo this trip, as I said, was life changing.

One day while we were in Bangladesh we had the privilege of visiting a village right near the border. Most of the people in this village had not seen white people before, so we were fairly popular. Kindly the villagers charmed some snakes for us (!) and showed us around their houses made of mud. These people were heartbreakingly poor.  After an hour or so of trying to communicate with smiles and head nods, and trying not to dry reach at the stink of poverty it was time to leave. As we came to get in the car one of the older men of the village approached me with his toothless grin and took hold of my hand. He looked me in the eyes and said “remember me”.

I smiled, squeezed his hand and slid into the back seat of the 4WD. As we drove off I looked through the back window of the car, I looked at this weathered desperately poor man and I whispered to myself with tears welling in my eyes, I will remember you.

I swung around in my seat and told Jen what the man had said to me.

She looked at me a bit stunned before she reminded me of one small fact I had forgotten.

He doesn’t speak English. He hasn’t even seen a white person before today.

Holy shitballs.

That’s a moment of clarity I will never forget.

I remember you. Forgive me brother. I remember you.













I have a faeces fascination. Say that 3 times fast.

I don’t know why.

It’s a gift I guess.

So many wonderful memories….

Don’t panic. I’ll show some restraint… but not much.

So, let me tell you about the time I saw diarrhoea flying across the street.

I was strolling along a busy street in Kolkata one hot, and humid day. I was chatting (possibly/probably nagging) away to Paul. As I looked across to speak to Paul, I happened to time my head movement perfectly to see a woman rushing towards the bushes/dead plants on the side of the road not even 2 metres away from me. She was lifting her sari, but didn’t quite make it. She shared the contents of her bowel with the street.

Why? Because Poverty is shit.

Poverty means she doesn’t have a public toilet to visit or basin to cleanse her hands (that doesn’t require any tap turning, I mean, I’m not a savage).

She has no privacy, no dignity, no choice. She doesn’t even get to choose where she takes a dump.

That my friends, is poverty. Say it with me “poverty is shit”.

Do you know what I love?

I love when we sit in our sanitised sanctums on our arrogant wiped clean arses and spew out this vile justification for our lives… “the poor are happy”.

Sorry Mum… arrogant bottoms.

I partly hate it so much because I fell foul to its alluring safety. The belief that yeah, that kid has made a toy out of a piece of old wire and a discarded tomato can, but he is so happy, so content.

I can learn so much from him, because although he has nothing, he is so happy.

WHAT THE? So I decide to envy his serenity? I covet his brief moment of happiness before he possibly dies of an ear infection because his Mum can’t afford antibiotics? Can I really look at him and think, what take away can I have from this to make my life better?

Lord forgive me.

All together now “poverty is shit”.

Bec, you are being a bit gross. No one wants to hear stories about women pooing in the street.

No. We don’t.

But I’m pretty damn sure that woman doesn’t want to be pooing in the street a whole lot more than we don’t want to be reading about it. And if we can’t even abide having that image briefly cast before our eyes, then we have no chance of seeing ourselves.

Because poverty is shit.

And unless we can look poverty in the eyes, see the degradation and loss and pain that poverty causes, if we insist on taming it down, on turning it into palatable pieces, then we will never become the instruments of justice and mercy that God wants us to be.

So next time you’re in the dunny relieving yourself, and in fact from now on, every time you defecate, I want you to think of me. Think of me and say with me “poverty is shit”.

And as we chant our loo time mantra, perhaps we will grow an army of shitting believers who will ask the question.

“What does God want me to do about it?