He was 10, or at least the height that would suggest that age.
He had dried snot covering the bottom part of his face.
He was filthy.
He was shoeless.
He was screaming Muzungu!
He clutched my shirt as if protecting himself from a nearby bully or looming danger.
One of the men I was with touched him on the shoulder to encourage him to let me go. The kid freaked out! He dropped to his knees and hugged my legs, burying his head between them while loudly repeating, “muzungu muzungu”.
I stroked his hair and softly patted him on the back of his blue shirt like I would a friend reeling from a break-up, or some similar petty shit that’s so ridiculously scope retarded, it’s laughable.
The boy needs medical attention.
The boy needs a parent to love and inspire him.
The boy needs a soccer ball with a park and birds, a back pack filled with cheese lunchables and five alive juice boxes.
The boy needs a fucking lamp from Baghdad.
I was completely unprepared for the avalanche of desperation that just bowled me over. I kept saying, I’m sorry.
The detail that still has me vexed is that the onlookers were laughing.
Laughing at this poor desperate boy begging for help.
They were laughing at my venerability. My inability to rebuff a desperate child with strength.
Eventually the driver pulled him from me as he screamed pleas and pox.
My guide gave him some money to bounce him away completely, but I could, and still can hear him screaming, “muzungu!”