Lying in bed last night, my six-year-old daughter asked me, “what is war”?My textbook answer withered and my words rang hollow. I never understood war less than in that moment. I realised that it is beyond my capacity to process war when I explain it to a child. Her innocence robbed the word of meaning.
I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that children, too, are caught in war.
I thought of children her age in Syria right now. I thought of the children in Paris, who lost parents and the semblance of safety.
How could she process that man is wolf to man?
I elected not to tell her that many children she will one day play with in Kenya have also been displaced and orphaned because of violent tribal clashes. In our home-based care program, four children still grieve for their blind mother who died after she ran for her life and stumbled into a well. Seven orphans and their aged grandmother were also forced from their homestead and now live in an old water tower, far from their community and tribe. And these are the lucky ones, whose basic needs are met. Whose wounds are starting to heal.
God, save the children.
Would heavy words like “war” float aimlessly around their heads instead of piercing their hearts.
These thoughts jumbled in my mind and words stuck in my throat as I watched my daughter peacefully drift asleep. Safe, sheltered, as children should be.