One chilly afternoon in China, I was rushing to collect my laundry when I passed a little girl crying on a pedestrian walk. She looked no more than 5 years old, tears were streaming down her dirty face.
A young boy of about 9 years old was shouting at her. I thought it was a normal quarrel between siblings but something was wrong. The busybody EastCoastLife turned back to check on the little girl.
As I stood watching, the little girl dried her tears on her dirty sleeves and approached a tripod. A towel was wrapped over the top of it. The little girl moved her head forward, placed her hands firmly on the ground, bit the towel-covered top with her mouth and viola!
She threw her legs over her head and started spinning round and round! Her body was so flexible. She was trained to do this. I wondered how much sufferings she endured to achieve this.
I was attracted by the little girl's performance but was startled by the young boy when he thrust a plastic container in my face.
"Must pay money! Must pay money!"
I dropped 10 renminbi into the container. Others who were approached did the same thing. The young boy was a natural at this. He's too matured for his age. I can imagine how street-smart he's going to become.
These kids should be in school but here they were performing on the streets for a living. I waited for the girl to finish her act and tried to speak to her. Before I could start a conversation, two fierce-looking men came from nowhere and told me to get lost.
I left reluctantly, constantly turning back to look at the little girl. Tears started streaming down her face again. She watched me walk away. Did I see a look of despair? My heart was breaking into pieces.
When I made enquiry at the laundry shop, the owner told me to mind my own business. The kids were probably kidnapped or bought from their poor parents to work as street performers. They are controlled by a syndicate that owns this territory.
The con artist eating from a garbage bin I saw a few days back, she too was controlled by a syndicate.
How sad! What a miserable life they must be leading! Are they waiting for someone to save them from their terrible fate?
I went back with a few of my male staff the next day to look for the kids, they were not there any more. There is not a day I don't think of the teary eyes of the little girl.....