Beaten - Chapter 10
I am in an orphanage called Goldenbridge in Dublin Ireland. My mother has left me and my siblings here so she could go to England to finish her nursing.
It is very late at night and all of a sudden all the lights are switched on. The Head nun drags a little boy by his hair into the middle of the room. He is about six years old. We are all forced to watch as she systematically beats the boy with a wooden hand brush until she is exhausted. She is panting and shouting. She tells us that this is what will happen to anyone who ever tries to run away again. The boy is sobbing on the ground and I feel there is no hope. I feel numb and confused. I feel alone and desolate. I must never try to escape because this is what happens. I am about six years old.
Some of the children stay on at the orphanage even after they have passed the age when they can leave and they become our carers. We call them "the big girls".
I see the same boy who was beaten some nights previously being brought to the top of a room where we are all gathered. The "big girl" in charge tonight threatens him that if he doesn't cooperate then she will pour lavatory cleaner down his throat. He curls up into a ball on the floor and the girl chooses boys to come up and beat the little boy who lies curled on the ground. The object is to make him cry. The boy who can make him cry is the winner. I feel helpless and disgusted that I am a part of this world. I hate the boy for bringing this on himself and I hate myself for being here.
I am standing on a low wall looking out through the railings and I see my friends David and Gerard Cleary being brought out for the day by their father. I wave at them as they walk down the driveway and I wish my Dad would come to take me out of this place even for a day.
When they return Gerard gives me a bag of toffees with white and pink icing on them. They are called Iced Caramels. I can’t believe it. I am overcome with joy that someone-a stranger, would think of me.
Whenever they go out the boys always bring me back a bag of these sweets and I can't get over this kindness from a man I never met.
I wake up in my bed in Goldenbridge and I resign myself to the fact that I will get a beating at least once that day and everyday I am in this place. I decide that to survive in this world I have to learn to take a beating and accept it like a man.
I get up and I fold the blanket and the sheets exactly as prescribed and place them at the end of the bed for inspection. I stand to attention at the end of the bed and wait. If you don’t fold these according to their rules you get a beating. I hate the sound of the children crying. I hate the sound of their fear as it approaches inspection time. I notice the thick rubber sheet. It is brown and it is in the middle of the bed and is ice cold. It protects the mattress from our pee. Those children who have wet the bed the night before are paraded through the dormitories holding up their wet sheets. I am about six years old.