By Sreynet Chhem
This blog was developed as part of the Voices of Youth blogging internship assignment requirement. Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.
Anyone who sits on cold pavement next to a loud coffee shop is old. That’s what I assume. It is because the energy used up all these years does not do any good for the numerous getting up’s and the sitting down’s, so they have to sit in one place if they were to beg.
I sit on the pavement and watch cars chasing around for a good one hour. In a night where the chill crushes against the skin of every species strolling down the street, there is a little girl sitting on the pavement alone in the darkest night of September. From her chapped lips, I suppose she’s been out here in the cold for more than five hours. She is holding a microphone to her heart. I look into her chocolate doe eyes. They remind me of every soothing thing I’ve ever laid my eyes upon in the world. Her gaze is roaming the street in search for an audience who’s willing to hear her. To make the sky her backdrop and the city her stage. This 12-year-old girl sitting next to me, I can hear her thoughts pumping loudly along with her heartbeat. She’s only 12 years old and she’s been dreaming of becoming a singer.
The wind continues to blow tenderly and the night continues to grow older. Still, no one stops by her to hear her sing. No one feels the urge to make a girl’s dream come true. She’s going to be all alone any time now when the people of the city settle in to rest. And then she will be left under the gentle glow of the street lights, crumbled with loneliness. The street will once again return to serenity. The moon will strike its pose. The stars will light up the world at their finest. Everything will live up to expectation except that of the poor little thing.
People say that when it’s past midnight, our thoughts will crawl out to play, singing in our head. And it’s true. At 1 AM, the girl sitting by me with her little hope is thinking of calling it quits. She made her way from home roughly 30km away from here to pursue her dream, but it seems to her that ‘dream’ is only a word of optimism just to keep one alive. She’s been speaking it for a while after parents’ death. All they left her is an abusive uncle.
I wish I can talk to her, tell her everything will be okay. I wish I can tell her to hold on. I wish I can kiss away the scars on her arms. But all I can do is watch. And so, I watch her every day from morning light till she sleeps. And when she finally closes her eyes and drifts away from worries and thoughts that is when I disappear.
The little girl sighs in complete despair. She calls it a day and walks out of the spot with her microphone tucked to her skirt. She curses to the wind for the chill it gives her. As she gets up, her joints create a funny sound. She proceeds to her sleeping spot in a small tent situated at the back of the coffee shop. It isn’t a place she’d like to live but it’s the only place. The girl staggers in, her back hunched, to where she would rest her bones. I watch her move, praying she won’t trip in the darkness and thankfully she doesn’t.
I stay to watch her from the outside now. She keeps the microphone away and reach out for a bottle of soothing cream. She rolls the substance on her back to ease the pain on her joints and her aching back. As she’s done with it, she lies on her back, contemplating on how she could get people to hear her sing. I watch her eyelids droop slowly till both shut close. And into dreamland, she goes.
It’s the moment I realize I am no longer needed here anymore. I walk away from the tent slowly until time twists my existence away from Earth. I watch the girl one last time and slowly, I fade into the wind leaving the old tent with an old wrinkled woman sleeping soundly. Once again, she’ll wake up and sit on the same cold pavement ready to beg passersby to survive another day with me watching. I have always been her Hope. The shadow that has been speaking to her since birth about chasing after her dream. But it looks like my job is done.
Originally posted on Friday, October 14, 2016