i’m only going to break your heart

Went downstairs to grab a quick chicken rice for breakfast. On the way, I stopped by the local Thursday market (did you know in Bangkok, we have different markets on different days?). I was in that before-breakfast daze, not completely ready to interact with the world. But how hard is it to buy some vegetables and some chicken rice?

In the crowded alleys of the market, amongst the handbags and sweets and shoes for sale, a small boy with a deformed leg drags himself on the ground begging. He is so young, he must have parents. Who would let him drag himself on the ground this way? Where is his mother? His father?

In Thailand the heart becomes complicated, the right thing to do tangled and thwarted. Many NGOs say it’s better not to give money to begging children, as it encourages the parents to keep them out of school. I often see people giving huge sums to children, often more than the child’s parent could make in an entire 8-10 hour day of working. Some parents cannot resist such temptation, or have a desperation that does not allow them to think of the long-term, but keeping the child out of school condemns them to a lifetime of begging.

It is very difficult to see such things.

There was not one amongst us who looked forward to being born. We disliked the rigours of existence, the unfulfilled longings, the enshrined injustices of the world, the labyrinths of love, the ignorance of parents, the fact of dying, and the amazing indifference of the Living in the midst of the simple beauties of the universe. We feared the heartlessness of human beings, all of whom are born blind, few of whom ever learn to see.”
– Ben Okri, The Famished Road.

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A blog about culture and technology in South-East Asia.

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