Sunday, March 01, 2009

Could it be Chong?

Later that morning, while taking a walk alongside the Ciliwung river, not far from Bogor’s botanic gardens, I spotted a ragged-looking figure under a wide stone bridge.

Could it be Chong? I crossed a patch of tall grass to have a closer look.

Instead of Chong I found a teenage boy, a granny, a small girl, a few pots and pans, several sleeping mats and some plastic bags: a home under a bridge.

"Hello," I said, being careful not to go too close. I didn’t want to actually enter their bedroom.

They stared at me with frightened eyes. Or was it hostility?

"Do you live here, under the bridge?" I asked.

The boy nodded.

"How many people?"

"Five," said the granny, who managed a slight smile.

"Do you work in Bogor?"

"In the market," she said.

I took some money from my pocket and held my hand out in their direction. The boy took it, almost grabbing it.

"Thank you," said the granny.


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