This is a story about a little boy with a big heart. And it’s a story that everyone should read.
The story is about Ivan, but ultimately, it isn’t just about him. It is, rather, about millions of other children like Ivan, living the same nightmare across the world today.
While this story of Ivan is fictional, its message hit me right in the chest. We must not ignore this issue. We must not forget Ivan.
My name is Ivan and I’m 7-years-old. I love my mom and dad, but I’m also very afraid of them. They often hit me and I don’t understand why.
This morning I woke up and went to school. I am a good student and my teacher likes me.
I like all my classmates, too, but I have no friends. That’s why I usually stay indoors during breaks. Nobody wants to play with me. I tried to make friends with the other children, but they rejected me and said I was disgusting.
They laugh at me because I wear the same worn-out jeans, t-shirt and torn shoes every day.
One day after school I went into the coat room and stole a jacket that was hanging there for a long time, nobody seemed to be missing it. Then I went home alone through the snowstorm. I was shivering with cold and it was hard to walk against the strong wind. Suddenly someone pushed me forward, I fell down in the snow and someone pressed my face into it. Then they said:
“No one likes you. Idiot!”
They kicked me in my back and in my stomach, then they ran away and left me in the cold snow.
I cried. Not because I was cold or injured, I cried because I did not have a single friend, even though I liked everyone else.
As soon as I got home, my mother ran over and grabbed me by the hair.
“Where have you been? Why are you so wet and dirty? Blasted child, no dinner for you, go to your room and stay there.”
I did as my mother told me, I went into my room and did not get out until the next day, although I was very hungry and freezing cold.
My grades got worse and worse, and every time dad was informed, he hit me hard. Once he hit me so hard that I could not move my index finger, I never got back the movement in my index finger and all the children laughed at me for it.
Time went by and one day I got a lot of pain in my chest.
Mom and dad did not care I was hurt. In the evening I lay in my bed and I only wanted one thing. I wish I would not hurt more, because I did not want to annoy Mom and Dad. I love them so much, I really do.
The next day at school we were tasked to paint our biggest dream. The other children painted cars, rockets and nice dolls. I did not.
Not because I don’t like those things, but because what I wished for most of all was a loving mom and dad. So I painted a family. One mom, one dad and their son. They played games and everyone was happy. As I painted, I cried silently. I would love to have a mom and dad who loved me.
When it was my turn to showcase my painting for the class, everyone laughed at me.
I stood in front of the class and explained:
“My biggest dream is a family”.
The laughs got louder. I began to cry and said,
“Please don’t laugh at me, this is my biggest dream! You can hit me, you can hate me, but I beg you, please don’t laugh at me.
I want parents like you have, that hug and laugh with me, who pick me up after school and are happy to see me. I know I’m ugly and weak, I know I have a crooked finger, but please don’t laugh at me.”
The teacher tried to wipe my tears, I think some children understood me, but many continued to laugh.
One day when I got a test back, I immediately saw that I had a bad result. I knew my mother would be very upset.
I was afraid to go home, but I did not know where else I would go. I slowly walked home, but I did not want to arrive. My mother became furious.
She grabbed me and threw me on the floor, I hit my leg hard on a chair.
Then she hit me in my head twice. I just lay there, I could not get up. It really hurt. But mom just left me there on the floor.
When she came back she told me to clean up the mess, otherwise when Dad came home he would really beat me.
I begged Mom not to say anything to him, but when I looked up, I saw that he was already in the doorway.
When Mom told him about the test, he pulled me up from the floor, he shook me and hit my face.
Then I don’t remember anything. I woke up in the hospital. I looked at my hand, I could not touch any of my five fingers. I looked out the window and cried.
Outside, I saw parents playing with their children, throwing balls together and hugging.
Do you know why I cried?
I don’t know how a hug from my mom feels like. My parents just beat me, but I love them anyway. I’ve always done my best, I’ve been good at school, but they do not like me still.
One day I spilled some of my tea, then they hit me again.
Suddenly I got pain in my chest again. I told my mom – but she did not care. After a while, I had to go to the hospital again, no one came and saw me.
The doctor said that mom and dad would probably come the next day, but they did not. I waited and waited, but nobody came. I love my parents anyway.
Two days later, Ivan died of his injuries. In his hand the doctors found a letter that he had not written clearly.
“Dear mom and dad, I’m terrified because I’m ugly, disgusting and stupid. I’m sorry because you can not love me.
I never wanted to annoy you. All I wanted was to get a hug and hug from mom, and hear that you loved me once. Dad I just wanted you to play with me, hold my hand for a walk or sing for me.
I know I’m a shame for you. I will never be those things.“
Then Ivan’s little heart stopped.
This story was originally written in Russian. I’m not sure if it’s been true, but I think that matters little. It’s incredibly important anyway!
All children are entitled to be loved. Still child abuse happens every second, every minute, every hour and every day. In all countries, all cities and all schools.
A child’s home should be free from violence and a safe place. Children need love, tenderness and closeness, and a hug can sometimes be worth a lot more than you could ever imagine.