The Kids Aren’t Alright

April 11, Kathmandu, Nepal

Indian Street kids

We are the antithesis of cute. We fall asleep whether tired or passed out from chemicals on coarse filthy city concrete and awaken, zombie-like, begging you for food and money and cigarettes with crusted scabs on our cheeks because cement is such a rough fuckin’ pillow.

We surround you.

While you slowly slip one hand into your [important] pocket and rest one arm over your backpack now awkwardly lying on your chest.

We are the opposite of invisible.

You can’t not see us passing a grimy who-knows-how-many-times used plastic bag full of glue to each other as we inhale fumes of the fakest euphoria we can barely imagine before the next ‘friend’ snatches the bag from my still gaping mouth.

And we do this in broad daylight. We were so hungry one winter that we devoured Shame, and some of the younger ones didn’t even get a taste.

Give me money. Of course I’m gonna buy glue or smokes; if I wanted food I would have told you I’m hungry.

And when we beg from you, we never leave empty handed because if it’s not change or food you give us, then it’s always that unanimous expression of bewilderment- the ‘what the fuck?’ one- and that’s something, isn’t it?

Street kid in India

And our pathetic “I’m hungry; help me” looks that we can switch on and off on a dime are not nearly as pathetic as the way we look when you’re not even looking.

Now and then we twitch in the numbness of our high or daze into the nothingness of this tourist mecca. We are caught somewhere between the mysterious adage of ‘street rat’ and ‘brain-dead.’ We huff and huff and with each new year, oddly we grow- backwards.

Rag tag, rascal, orphan? ‘Street rats’ can’t gamble in the middle of busy streets with stolen change like we can. We are a pack of motherless wolves.

We are the saddest thing you have never seen. And some lives are too scary for regrets to haunt them.

Indian Street kid

Try not to stare too long. I know it’s tempting. This bed-head is forever. This dirt and dust will not come off. We are the opposite of invisible. We grasp at your arm for recognition or coins and I can’t be more than eight fuckin’ years old but there’s a cigarette hanging out the corner of my mouth and as you twist away from me there’s a streak of grime on your sleeve that won’t wash out because it takes a life time to the better part of one week to clean a conscience these days.

Who knows where we sleep. [I don’t] But I’m sure it’s so cold.

We are the real lost boys. And if only we could actually read Peter Pan. Somebody give me a new fucking T-shirt, or a new drug, or some sort of religion that is real, or a goddamn hug.

We are the saddest thing you have never seen.

At [spit] times [cough] our [take] life [scream] seems [beg] a [smoke] series [hit] of [run] consecutive [huff] crude [snort] and [cry] evil [collapse] verbs. [exist]
And do you know what’s sadder than a forgotten orphan boy?- A forgotten orphan girl. Because these kind too, travel in packs like wolves, but with less snarl and more hiding.
With bold smiles and puerile grins that almost mask their tired, frightened eyes.

  1. Josie

    This is an incredible story- you have an amazing way with words.

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