One morning I got up to buy fruit and on the way I passed 5 boys, sleeping huddled together on the street and around the corner a little girl huddled under a bush. I deiced upon seeing them that whatever fruit I bought I would share with them on my way back.
First I gave the little girl some bananas which she snatched without looking up. Then I went over to the boys who were beginning to sit up rubbing their eyes. When they saw that I was definitely coming over to them they jumped alive. Somehow I went from walking towards them to being huddled against a wall as they snatched, pulled and fought with each other as I handed out the fruits. One of them kept pointing to the two red apples that could be seen through the bag and was shouting ‘rojo, rojo’ (red, red). I handed one red apple out to the boy but another hand snatched it first. I’d given away most of the fruit now and wanted to save some for our breakfast. Maintaining my fear had me realize the potential danger of my situation. I told the boys they had to share but the same boy kept snatching for the bag and shouting ‘rojo’. The rest of the children were fighting and eating the fruit so as I began to walk off this one boy followed me shouting ‘rojo’ with more intensity. As I quickened my pace his his leg shot out and kicked me. My only reaction was could to shout back that they had to share. In a nearby garage someone who heard the commotion came walking out with a broom. I didn’t turn back to see what happened, I just hurried back to my motel trying to keep my panic under raps before I made it back and burst into tears.
I felt so stupid for thinking that a bag of fruit would change anything, that they would be grateful. Who knows how or why they are left to fend for themselves, the feeling of helplessness and a deep sadness of the world in which those children live, and then shame because actually I live in the same world, but my experience of it is so different that cross overs such as these slam me as I am reminded of it. It goes from this thing that I know that buzzes around in my sphere to being full in my face and unable to look anywhere else but at it, questioning it, and myself in the process.
When we are born and journey through childhood we are given tools by those around us who shape us into what we become. What if when you were born you weren’t given anything, what kind of adult would you grow into and what kind of tools would you have at your disposal to cope in society?
I am sometimes careful in my writing to highlight the best bits and choose not to include the harder or scarier stuff, but those parts I wish I didn’t see or experience need to be honored in some way as part of the truth to the reality that I live in. Paraguay historically suffered long years of war that chipped away at it’s borders and devastated the country, depleting a huge percentage of the male population. The longest dictatorship in South American history followed, leaving the country that is landlocked by Brasil, Bolivia and Argentina financially poor in it’s wake.
Take me to Peek at Paraguay#6 To Conclude