(Tarnished Childhoods) And just like the black plastic bags which tumble across the hot black tar streets, they too are littered everywhere– and I always see them no matter how accustom one can become. Like the beautiful stones of a busy city square, their faces have become layered with dirt from the gallop of human feet and they’ve lost their youthful luster from the wear of the wind and rain and tumultuous elements of life. And just as you would brush the dust aquired from years of aging off of a book or plate, their youth and fresh faces are certainly hidden underneath if you care to look.
In the heat of this summer sun, their vocal cords sound drained from screaming “apricots, 1 jd a kilo”. With bored posture they yell like a song on repeat and with voices that have you fooled. The first time I encountered one was the time I sat down for some tabbouleh and hummus, feet aching underneath the paper-lined table from a day of walking Akko’s stone streets– from the shy smile and constant staring I knew he was at the age of blossoming; he was my waiter.
And like a lone wolf who hungrily searches for their next meal and has lost his pack they prowl, zigzagging across streets with packs of gum or tissues eyeing their next target. Day in and day out, I can recall the faces which repeat the same phrases. “I’m hungry”, they point to their bellies or mouths. “Please?” They have the insistence, veracity and the salesman mindset of grown men. They hear no but they still follow in persistence until they feel the game has been lost. Jordanians sometimes intervene to shoo them away as if they’re a nagging fly which repetitively lands on your face.
Young children working and hustling the streets. I mean young. Eyes which were closed in their mother’s womb just five years ago, boys that have yet begun to approach puberty at 11 years old. Baby faces and fresh skin darkened by the sun and dirtied by the earth. The question aches me, I say it though I know they don’t understand or care to respond. Where is your mother? Why aren’t you in school? Oh sweetie, you’re so young. (Link to whole story in bio)