Chinua Achebe was a great Nigerian novelist. poet and short story writer of global significance. He is best known for his first novel “Things Fall Apart” which has been translated into 45 languages. His poem “Refugee Mother and Child” is a celebration of motherhood. It is set in a refugee camp somewhere in Africa. The representation of human suffering and the picture of a mother's tenderness for her son, that she soon will lose, is truly moving and compelling..
Refugee Mother And Child
No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother's tenderness
for a son she soon would have to forget.
The air was heavy with odours
of diarrhoea of unwashed children
with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in laboured
steps behind blown empty bellies. Most
mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother's
pride as she combed the rust-coloured
hair left on his skull and then -
singing in her eyes - began carefully
to part it… In another life this
would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she
did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.