Careful though; don’t use the knowledge only as means of rhetoric or self-aggrandizement. Innocent intention in all things. Theory of reflective fallacy sounds spot on for my dissecting mind. What I critique the most is usually linked to that I wish to change about myself. Easier to point outwards.
The huts typically have a visible wooden skeleton on the inside, pilfered bamboo perhaps, and are covered by impromptu roofing materials: Tarps, cloths, corrugated plastic, cardboard. The open entrances reveal mundane events inside; cooking, sweeping, sleeping. I’m not sure what I expected to see but it certainly wasn’t evidence of our similarity. Everything in the slums is soot black: Clothes, people, homes.
I need to find a different rhythm in this place. The mornings are full of promise. The nights are lonely and I drown my emotions in alcohol. In the morning, at Mother House, there are two candles burning in the courtyard, stuck to the concrete in a large pool of wax. I stare at the flames and think about my wavering life. Zombies pray in low, trance-like unison above me in the church.
The Asian man also has scars all over his shaved head which I inquire about. Those are from fighting, I am told. With whom is he fighting? There are places where certain men, nasty men with fat pockets, lure beggars with the promise of food.
In mid flight, the bird begins to flap it’s wings vigorously, plumb’s itself, and docks on the sidewalk like a cartoon character –scooting a few steps upon landing. My goodness! All those chickens are actually alive. They are simply resigned to their fate so they hang lifelessly en route to slaughter. With it’s legs still bound, the retailed chicken is no match for the murderous old woman.
A man slides by on the concrete floor dragging his leg; foot freshly amputated. I am summoned by one of the Sisters and follow her out the front door. Lying in the back seat of a taxi, on a sheet of heavy construction plastic, is a freshly delivered convalescent. His head hangs morbidly limp off the edge of the seat like a wilted flower. He looks like a coal miner from all the filth covering his person.
A man repeatedly gains my attention, points up to a window on the ceiling, and speaks words I cannot understand. I think he is telling me he wants to die so he can go to heaven. I tell him I question his logic, hoping he can’t understand me. Not sure if his level of suffering ends with death. I realize my philosophical bantering doesn’t hold any ground against his pain. Volunteers engage in childlike conversation with the dying and mollify through body language.
A young man has his motorcycle disassembled on the side of the road and men stand around bidding on parts loudly. Women wash clothes in the stream of busted hydrants; sometimes it seems the water just bubbles right up through the concrete of the sidewalk. Homeless sleep anywhere and everywhere. Men squat in circles; engaged in heavy discussion.
Packs of dogs walk in the middle of the road aimlessly. A few fires burn near the sidewalks; piles of garbage pluming out black smoke. A body or two stand near the flames and stare into the hollow searching for answers. It seems every person, and every dog, looks straight into my eyes as my taxi squeaks by on rusted springs. I try to hide my shock but can’t close my mouth. I cant believe such a place exists on this planet.