Sometime in August 2009, my grad school classmate Emina Cerimovic told our class about how four-year old girls are seen in Bosnia wiping car windshields while begging for money. That story is a mirror image of what is common in the Philippines, a very wealthy country where only 5% are affluent and 70% live below the poverty line.


The red light flashes

I step on the brakes

She rushes to my direction

With a dirty cloth in her hand, she wipes

The non-existent dust off my side mirror

She stares at me with the eyes of the legion

Draped in vulnerability

Who live mourning

The death of their dreams everyday

I feel her nudging the heart of humanity

To awaken from deadwood slumber

The green light flashes

As I fish into my pocket for some coins

I hear cars behind me honk with impatience

Fearing their rage I release my brakes

And drive away as coins fall on my feet

In my side mirror I see

The slumped shoulders of a four-year old

Who looks sadder than a widow

And more venerable than a grandmother

She moves between rushing cars

In a rat race that worships gold

Five miles away…

How could a helpless infant

With an atrabilious look

Make me feel such abyssal self-disgust? /chytdaytec

(Photo credit: Emina Cerimovic)