Sunday, March 01, 2009

Rubbish tip

Next day I returned to Iwan’s kampung. At the edge of the rubbish tip, teenage boys, seated on oil barrels, were strumming guitars; women were sorting through piles of aerosol cans, plastic bottles and plastic bags; old bicycle wheels and car parts were being beaten into shape by young men wearing tattoos; beautiful gypsy-like girls were attending to babies; chickens were picking their way through the weeds; a nauseous smell of burning plastic filled my nostrils.

Iwan, smiling and looking less pale, was sitting outside his house, resting his bandaged leg.

"How are you?" I asked.

"Fine, Mr Kent."

Granny fetched some glasses of water for us to drink.

"Where’s the water from?" I asked.

"From a neighbour’s well," said granny. "We can’t use the river water anymore, not even for washing clothes. It’s too dirty."

"They found a body in the river last night," said Iwan, eyes widening.

"What happened?" I asked.

"Nobody knows," said Iwan.

I looked at my glass of water which was brown, smelt of dead rats and toads, and had creatures swimming in it.

"Would anyone like a cola?" I said. "From the little stall up the road."


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