THAT STREET CHILD

I pick my device to start typing, but I am held captive by my memories of that beautiful girl trapped in the predicament of being a street child. For seconds turning into minutes and threatening to spill into hours, I cannot bring myself to form words out of the memories of the day that has followed me into the silence of the night.

I close my eyes in utter mental exhaustion, and her face invades the darkness within, illuminating my soul in a way that doesn’t bring hope, but betrays the effort I’m making in trying to stay calm. A groan escape my lips, and I feel my muscles clench as I try to stop myself from breaking yet another thing.

I was on my way to where I could get a taxi, and head home from yet another empty days activity, when I felt her little hand brush against my skin in a weak attempt to halt me and get my attention. As weak as her attempt was, I looked down, only to be trapped in the stares of a beautiful girl with the cutest and most innocent smile I’ve ever seen. She asked for money.

In my moment of being hypnotized by this innocent girl, I stuck my hand into my pocket, and gave her all I had in it. She was delighted. She thanked me profusely, and turned to leave before I held her back. A little conversation with her wouldn’t hurt. I had to squat to get to her height level, and stare her straight in the eye. I noticed yet again, the glimmer of appreciation in her eyes, alongside how dirty her clothing were, and her hair too.

“hey, I am …… what’s your name? “

“Ruth”

“And how old are you?”

“nine”

We got talking for a while, about nothing serious, before I pushed on a little

“Ruth, tell me, what do you want to be in future?”

She stared at me, accessing me in her street wisdom, trying to understand my intents, and ascertain if I meant any harm.

She smiled

“I don’t know,  and I don’t want to know”

“why?” I asked, utterly bewildered

“Because I would be dead before then”

I stared hard and long, incapable of putting together an adequate response for such deeply rooted pessimism in the heart of a child. Taking advantage of my shocked state, she strode off and immediately disappeared into the busy traffic of rowdy pedestrians.

Then it hit me. It hit me hard, it hit me strongly.

I spent the next hours as I made my way home, trying to convince myself that the beautiful street child I met, won’t die prematurely, she’d live and grow into someone happy, breaking away from the shackles of poverty and lack.

I didn’t do a good job; I embraced reality over fantasy, and reality stung me.

Majority of street kids died, and die before they begin to live, victims of violence, starvation, or merely cruelty of other humans. I couldn’t deny the possibility of Ruth coming to encounter the gruesome experience of rape, probably while as a child. I couldn’t convince myself that it wasn’t possible that one day in the peak of her hunger and starvation, she would attempt to steal just a little foodstuff, and then become a victim of jungle justice.

I couldn’t vehemently tell myself that it wasn’t possible for her to be a victim of human trafficking, and of men’s brutal lust. Her soft heart had already begun the process of hardening in other to adapt to her harsh world, and there were endless possibilities as to how it would end for her. Possibly “my” Ruth could end up different, find her way out of the slump and go on to be happy, but then I know with certainty that there were other street kids in the world, other Ruths who were certain of their death before they even started living. I also know with certainty, that my prayer for Ruth won’t be the case with every other street child, assuming Ruth eventually turns out great.

I bow my head, and say a quick prayer for Ruth, trying hard not to even think about where her parents probably were.

 

This was a piece I wrote a year ago, and it was an actual experience and not fiction in any way. I had prepared something to put up today when I went through my archives and saw this one, and it reached deep within me like the experience was just yesterday, and I decided immediately to put it up instead.

I sincerely hope it touches something within you too. Have a great day people.

 

 

 

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