Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Random Observations #14

A street cleaner extracts a soggy picture of a saint that was floating face-down in the stagnant pond in the park and - seemingly unable to throw it in his trash can - wipes it clean and leaves it in the sun to dry.

Ten minutes later, another street cleaner spots the picture in the sun, inspects it and - again - cannot find it in her heart to throw it away. Might there be divine consequences to such heresy? She eventually affixes the saint to the side of her cart.

I am left wondering what is the worse destiny: to be thrown in the trash and eventually incinerated or to be eternally strapped to the side of a trash can into which the waste of the city is dumped.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Random Observations #13 (World Cup Edition)

A dead man lies in the road. Arms outstretched like a fallen crucifix.
A clichéd cluster of bewildered onlookers.
A woman holds a hand to her open mouth as if to stifle a scream long since due.

Must get home to see the game.

Yes, but at what cost?

The bus takes me in the opposite direction (into town) in record time. Just buses on the streets when Brazil plays.

Entering the heart of one of the biggest (and normally busiest) cities in the world, I am reminded of long summer days in the village in Southern Italy where Dad was born. I used to love walking the deserted streets after lunch, where the only sound breaking the siesta was that of the same telenovela, beaming from each and every doorway.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen indeed.

If this is public transportation, what are you doing here?

Haven't washed in five days. Haven't shaved in six.
I see my reflection as another bus passes and am reminded of Woolf.

It was only for a moment, catching sight of myself before I had time to prepare myself as I always prepare myself for the sight of myself, that I quailed.

Aw, rats

Sick as a dog all weekend. Couldn't sleep last night either. Took the wrong pill and ended up horizontal, eyes wide open, listening to the rats scurrying in the rafters above my head all night.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Taking it on the chin

I was assaulted yesterday. Not by a stranger, by one of the boys.

During breakfast, after being told that he was not allowed to enter the kitchen without permission (a house rule that he knows well) he became extremely angry and threw a cereal bowl in my face. He was at such close proximity that it struck me on the jaw.

Cereal Bowl - 1 Luke - 0

I never had any illusions about the nature of this work and about living with and helping children who are broken in a million different ways. I can deal with bite marks and bruises - they eventually fade (or, as Winehouse wrote, "tears dry on their own"), but a psychological line is crossed when blood in drawn and I have never been assaulted before.

After he left the kitchen, we locked the door as a precautionary measure in case he returned with a knife. I then carefully made my way through the house and up to my bedroom.

Sitting in that upper room, alone, my loneliness and sense of isolation was never more acute. Sometimes I hear people say that working amongst the poor (especially poor children) is "rewarding" but I think that is the least accurate description I can imagine right now.

Still no sensation in my lower jaw. It feels like a bad day at the dentist (sorry Mr Pritchard).

Like being the only person on one side of the train platform when there is crowd on the opposite side, I ask myself: Am I going in the right direction?