Monday, April 20, 2009

1. JAKARTA: SIX DEGREES SOUTH



Seated on the pavement in front of the flea-pit cinema, in a state of utter dejection, was a young boy.

He was barefoot and dressed in a dirty ragged shirt and long trousers several sizes too big. He was moving his head from side to side like a depressed young panda in a zoo. At his feet were a few scraps of cooked rice on a crumpled piece of brown paper. Was he twelve years old? Difficult to tell as he was so undernourished.

"What’s your name?" I asked him in Indonesian.

There was no reply; he avoided eye contact. I asked a few more questions but got no answers. I stood back. Passers-by ignored him, or, in the case of three well-dressed young men, mocked him with jeers and insults.

At one point he stood up, a little shakily, and walked to a stall selling drinks. He held his head high, and, in a surprisingly insistent manner, held out his hand to demand a drink. The young stall holder, no trace of emotion on his face, handed the boy a glass of coloured liquid. The boy drank thirstily before returning to his patch of pavement. What was I to do?

The lad seemed like a hopeless case.

~~

1. JAKARTA: SIX DEGREES SOUTH
Why Indonesia?
Adventure, discovery, love, waifs and strays
One of the world's great hot steamy cities
Three bedroom house

1 comment:

Laclos said...

Very touching and devoid of any obvious sacarin sentimentality.
What can any of us do?