This morning when I woke up I decided to count the number of bones I would see on the walk to school. The final count was nine: a hip bone, two femurs, a skull, the right side of a lower jaw, a radius, 6 vertebrae, a sacrum and a smaller bone I couldn’t identify. I think they were all cow, except for the jaw bone. That one looked more like a goat.
Before I leave home, I hear the call of the men selling brooms and other small things as they walk through the neighborhoods. They sound as if they have mechanical voice boxes put in. I have tried to imitate their voices, but all I get is belly laughter from my family. They are a bit like the ice cream trucks in America. The distinct sound of the music lets you know they are coming and children run out for a treat. In this case, it is the women running for a new broom.
I make my first turn and hear “Give for Jesus”, “God will bless you”, “Just a small amount”… The songs of the beggars pepper my ears. An older woman was sitting on her mat with her change laid out in front of her. A younger woman, maybe fourteen years of age, dropped a bigger coin (equivalent of 3 cents) and then took some of her smaller coins (equivalent of half a cent). The beggar said, “God bless you”. It made me wonder, was the young gal on her way to school and willing to give up her lunch, and just keep her bus fare? I had never see a beggar “give change”. I walked by with a pocket full of bills and dropped nothing. Everyday there are a minimum of two beggars. Today there were six. Who should I give to? How much should I give?
I then mazed my way through a herd of sheep on the road. Yesterday, it was donkeys. The day before, cows. Somedays there are no animals; I just have to avoid their excrement.
I make my next turn and for the first time, I missed the sweet voice of a young gal. She is probably six. She runs toward me every morning and greets me with, “I love you!” It is the only English she knows. She lives in a tin home that is probably six by eight feet. She always wears a beautiful smile and the same brown stained clothes. He mother is usually washing the clothes and waves at me. She wears the same smile as her daughter.
The homes in the neighborhood range from 3 story mansions to tins shacks. Towards the end of the road is a small, tin shack that is maybe three feet by five feet. I learned after my first trip down the road to walk on the other side of the road to avoid the fetor of old, stale urine and sweat. I have never seen the person that lives there, but I know someone does because the plastic and newspapers on the floor have changed.
At the last corner, there are the shoe shining boys, at least five or six are there. You can get your shoes washed for 6 cents or washed and shined for 18 cents. If you know me, you know two things: I like flip-flops and I am always running late. They greet me with “hello”, “peace” and “mommy”. I say hello and continue on my walk.
I walk past about forty little shops. Ten minutes have now passed and I am at school, late of course.