The traffic light.
I was five then, coming home from school, sitting at the backseat of the car, waiting for the traffic light to turn green, and looking silently out the window. There were children in the street wading through vehicles in the heat of the sun, begging from the people in their cars. We passed by that area often and those children would be there always.
It was common sight to see them in the streets. It was as if that was where they belonged. The street was their home, their place of ‘work’, their playground, their eating place, their sleeping place.
Barefoot and dressed in rags, they would knock on the windows with their grubby hands and peer them with their small faces. Some would stare at you straight and make their faces look pitiful. Others faces would be simply blank, devoid of any light.
The people in their cars would hardly even turn their heads.
It was as if nothing was there.
It was hard for me then to imagine how it was for children, just about my age, some even younger, to be begging everyday on the streets. I had been raised with everything a child could ever need. And so it made me sad to see children like me who hardly had anything at all.
They had no home to go to, no mother or father to care for them, no education, no decent clothes to wear, and not enough food to eat. They didn’t even have slippers to protect their tiny feet as they went about the dirty rough roads.
A young boy
carrying a little girl on his back.
He approached our car one day as we were going home. He tapped our window and peered through. I turned my head and looked at his face for moment, but my eyes quickly turned away. I couldn’t look at him, because what I saw in his eyes was suffering and sadness,
far more than what I could have understood.
What I saw in those eyes look back at me every so often. I see them in the face of the old beggar lying on the sidewalk, on the face of the young mother clutching her child by the steps of a bridge, and on the faces of abandoned children and those begging on the streets. I wanted so badly to clothe and feed them, to care for them. I wanted them to have what the world had deprived them of.
Though so young, their little bodies and souls have already gone through much of life’s hardships and pain.
I see it
in their faces.
Faces in the roads, in the streets, on the sidewalk, under the bridge, in the squatter homes. Everywhere.