I lost my job last week and when Shabina kicked me out I was homeless once again. I am back here now broke and dejected in this hot and dusty village that we call home. This place is just pathetic. The village shops are just a couple of tied-together wood-and-paper affairs where tired and miserable traders offer miserable-looking dusty vegetables at ridiculous prices. Most people don’t buy. They stop and stare and then sit on the patchy grass by the roadside picking their teeth with stalks of grass. These folk are called the remainees. They remained in this village when everyone else including the rats left for the big cities. The remainees wear their caps low and never look you in the eye. A few of them are muggers. There are no trees from which one could slip a noose over one’s head and escape this existence so one just has to endure. You can still buy single cancer sticks at the yellow kiosk near the ditch so that is where I am headed.
The heat is unbearable and we wait for rain like Christmas. We’ve had rain-clouds coming round every day from just beyond the hills but every afternoon the wind turns direction and the clouds float right back to wherever they came from. You know, I never used to believe in all this climate change nonsense.
On the way to the shops I meet three kids all of school going age working hard at something. I idly wonder why these kids aren’t taking advantage of the “free primary education for all” that’s now on offer. The poor mites with their red hair are just bone and skin. Their dirty rags offer nothing in the way of decency or privacy. These kids normally scour the village looking for bits of charcoal to sell. School was never for them.
I stop to ask what they are making. They are working on this old wooden crate which they have placed on a platform. They are fixing some wheels onto the platform to make some kind of trolley. They tell me that Mama Kuni from down by the stream has some barrels of water that she needs moving and she has promised to pay them well if they do it. I stay and chat with them a while as they continue to work. In a little while they have made what looks like a decent cart. Then the tall boy fashions a small cardboard plate and places it at the back of the cart just about where the registration plate on a car would go. He picks up a bit of charcoal and writes the registration OD…M.
Maybe one day we will live in a true democracy with our leaders chosen not on the basis of their ethnicity but on their abilities and effectiveness at dealing with the issues. Maybe also life will one day return to so many of our forgotten villages and hamlets, isolated as they are now by unemployment and lack of opportunities and cut-off by superhighways, and lack of decent services.
The Future Is Bright. The Future is Orange
10th may 2007