I came across this video some weeks ago but found it too difficult to write about it. There is something so profoundly sad about this little boy singing about his mother, that it is hard to put words to the emotions it evokes. What is particularly painful is not knowing whether this child still has a mother, whether he ever even experienced a nurturing mother as the song suggests or if the song is bringing up memories of a mother who is no longer with him.
This Bangladeshi boy first describes with some level of bravado and confidence that his father was a gambler who abandoned them. He describes how he used to sing to make money to support his mother. He seems proud of his ability and volunteers to sing a song which initially did not appear to emotionally affect him.
Although his voice and skill is immediately apparent, half way through the song, this boy seems to get in touch with his emotions. At this point, he sings with greater depth and seems to genuinely feel what he is singing. As he sings about his mother, who nurtured him in her womb, as he sings about how she cared for him by sacrificing her own comforts, he begins to shed tears. His bravado disappears. He presents as he is, a vulnerable little boy who has experienced far too much adversity in his short life.
The reality is that this child and others like him are unlikely to have had secure loving attachments with their parents. They are also likely to have suffered many types of abuse and experienced high levels of trauma. These experiences may result in a reduced ability to form attachments with adults, issues of distrust, drug addiction and sexual risk taking behaviour.
For many of these children, I imagine that singing provides respite and escapism from the realities of their lives. It may also help them to process their emotions, and provide a ‘safe enough’ method of getting in touch with their losses.
I hope you take the time to listen to this boy’s musical talent, and consider for a moment how much pain he carries around in that little heart. Much as it seems futile, perhaps singing about an idealised mother helps him build on his strength, provides him with a sense of identity and gives him the resilience he needs to survive.