In Madang town today my wife and I met a child – a boy of about seven – no more than a meter tall.
He was selling DVDs. I don’t always buy DVDs on the streets but there was something about this kid that drew my attention and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Of course when you meet someone, you notice the obvious first. He was small and of elementary school age, probably 6 or seven. His nose was dirty. He had a bag slung across his body.
After the obvious, you start to pay attention to the less obvious. To me, he wasn’t trying to be a streetwise salesman. He just wanted to sell his DVDs and go home. But where was home? He showed me his DVDs. Two of which looked good. He said without saying that if I wasn’t interested he’d go somewhere else, he didn’t mind if I wasn’t interested. I still didn’t know what it was that drew me to this kid until I spoke to him.
I asked him who actually owned the DVDs he was selling and he told me they belonged to him. I asked him a second time and again he told me the same. I asked where his parents were. He said his mother had died and his father “cut grass for Peter Barter,” the former governor of Madang. He said all this with a level of honesty that just broke my heart.
|The DVDs – Green Hornet and Sucker Punch|
This little person wasn’t seeking sympathy nor was he asking for help. I decided to buy two of his DVDs – not because I felt sorry for him but because they looked interesting. While I was giving him the money he told us that he had eaten too many lollies and that he had a belly ache. Again, he wasn’t looking for someone to feel sorry for him. He was just stating facts as they occurred. I paid for the DVDs and gave him two kina extra – a spur of the moment decision. Not because I felt sorry for him.
He hesitated but then took the money. I’m writing this because I can’t forget his eyes and what his whole being said without saying.
As young as he seemed, this little person had his dignity. He was honest. He was trusting and he was willing to work hard without begging.
What was sad was that he had accepted life as it is. He had accepted that life for him and his dad is difficult and will continue to be difficult. Yet he wasn’t going to take it lying down. He didn’t express sadness about his mother’s death. Had simply accepted that sometimes mums die when kids are small and that dads have to work hard to cut grass and that kids have to sell DVDs to make money. Today, I learnt a lot about honesty, perseverance and hard work. I will work harder and appreciate the simple priceless gifts that money can’t buy. I didn’t take a picture of him.