Three weeks passed and Anita didn’t go back home to her parents which was a good sign because it meant she was moving on slowly but surely. She had sold the building to Mavis and had gotten a Job cooking at a chain of one of the fast food joints in town. It paid well and she was relatively happy. On her way to work, she ran into two street children. They stopped and stared at her. The older girl walked up to her while the younger one still stared from afar.
“Madam. Thank you.” The girl simply said. “We are going to see our brother in the hospital. Will you come?”
Alice smiled dryly. Smiling had seemed so out of character since the love of her life transcended.
“I actually have to work now but maybe in the evening.” Alice said.
At that moment of her dilemma, she had thought of what Justin would have done and realized that he was the kind of person who loved to a fault. He gave up whatever dreams he had to make hers possible. He gave and gave and gave because he loved and loved and loved. He had no pride, he was so humble and he would give all he had to save the life of that boy even if it meant spending every other moment broke. That was the kind of person he was.
She also noticed that since she made that sacrifice, since she contributed in reviving that boy, she seemed revived herself. It was just like magic. She felt that she might just be able to carry on.
After Alice’s’ shift, she went home for a brief period and then came back with a wrapped package of sweets, cakes and pies which she had made. She followed the children to the hospital to visit the recovering young man.
The bald doctor no longer worked there; somehow, stories went out about what he was doing. The police had tried to arrest him but he was nowhere to be found. Rumour has it, he fled to his village. Some organisation had already posted a petition that all hospitals should treat tearaways for free. Alice suspected that Marvis had started all that. The woman had disappeared just as quickly as she had come into Alice’s life but she didn’t think too much about it.
In the boys ward, Alice sat down on the chair as she watched the boy devour the cake. After he ate to his fill, he gave the rest to his siblings.
“How are you?” Alice asked.
“Doctor say I am Healing fast. It is a miracle.” His head was so shaven that it reflected light and the injured part was still wrapped in bandage.
She looked at the children, at their tattered clothes; they were alone as she was but not quite. They were more alone yet They were content. In this harsh world, they survived. If only they had someone to care for them.
The kids shared the sweets. One took a bite of the other’s and then gave him/her theirs to eat.
“Aunty. It is very sweet.” The youngest one said.
She only wished she could do more for them. If this little help which she rendered healed her so, she only imagined if she could do more for them.
“So when they discharge you, where will you go to?” she asked.
“Home.” They answered simultaneously.
“Where exactly is home?”
“Under-bridge.” He said innocently the way you would say 23rd Land, street 42.
Her heart ached. She felt a little spasm of guilt bubble in there.
She recalled complaining a million times about her life. She remembered how she always thought life was unfair for her. How the rent was so expensive and food prices were so steep nowadays. How the salaries were so small and her only good jeans had faded. Or how the tailor was over charging; Pointless complaints which did not seem like anything now that she looked at the smudged faces of these children. She was unsatisfied with having little but they had nothing. They only had what humanity offered them and the human race had so much on their mind to think of street children. They were children brought forth by the street after all. There were born by it. Their genes intertwined with the garbage embedded floors, their blood was the same with the fluids that hung in still stagnant pools and ran through the veins of blacked gutters. Their aroma was the aroma of urine in the air in the middle of the day. They were the streets personified. And so the streets took care of them. If one of them died, they’d be buried by the streets. If they wanted to eat, they ate what the streets offered them. The lucky ones got to hawk things like sachet water but that didn’t give them much. The lifestyle of these kids were seen as almost normal; the way things worked. People strolling barely recognised them as people; they were extensions of the street. Like a fence, walkway or lamp post.
But they were not lamp posts, they were children and children were so fragile. They needed love care and nurture. The streets could not give them that. They needed to learn, but they could not afford education. As an adult, she had seen first had how the city was, she could not even imagine what these children went through, and to be stuck living such miserable lives each day until they met their demise.
Her eyes shifted to the youngest child who was about seven years old. She ate a pie slowly as she tried to savour the taste. As if she had never tasted anything like that. Where are their parents? If they are orphans, they should have uncles. A guardian of some sort. It was a fact that some of these children were sent to the streets the same people who were supposed to be their guardians; greedy uncles who swipe away property after their parents die.
All of a sudden, Alice didn’t want to be weak anymore. She wanted to be strong so she could support them some way… if she could only restore picture to the obscurity that was their future. She couldn’t afford to grieve when she could give hope to these children: these walking corpses with no one to fend for them: these street children whose lives were in the hands of the street. It was only a matter of time until a car hit another of them. They needed care; she had to be their support. She actually wished she could transform their lives but unfortunately, all she could afford to do was to bake sweets.
After the visit, the boy managed to accompany Alice to the door. The leg was healing though but he was still limping. He seemed happy that she had come. At the exit, he thanked her and apologised for stealing her cake and putting her is such a position.
“Aunty… my sister tell me that you suppose leave me to die.”
Tears filled Anita’s eyes. She had no idea.
“God bless you.” He said.
She chuckled and though “God bless Justin.” His kindness had finally rubbed off on her.