I am walking through the crowded temple, when suddenly I find myself surrounded by children in uniforms. They are swarming the grounds, walking in just their socks, and I am thinking to myself that surely they must be getting their feet filthy- the ground is covered in shit- literally. I look down and watch one little boy narrowly avoid stepping into a dark smear on the concrete, and just as quickly I look back up. That is disgusting.
The kids are everywhere, every age. There are seven year olds, twelve year olds, fourteen year olds. They are all abuzz, chattering and laughing, their navy blue uniforms tying them together. Two little girls bounce past me, their arms across each other’s shoulders like mini-adults. They have their heads pressed closely together, and are talking seriously, though they both have a glimmer in their eye.
I turn the corner and the children continue to stream towards me. So much for the buddy system, I think as they swarm around me, dozens of children, laughing, shouting, and pushing one another. There is one visible adult in this whole mess, and she walks quietly, a small, tranquil smile on her face. Just then a pack of little boys pushes up against me. They are maybe eleven.
“Hi, hi!” they shout, utilizing the only English word they know. “Hi!” I say back enthusiastically, a smile on my face. “Hello, hell-oooo!” they call out after me, black heads turning in my direction as I walk. So I guess they know two English words…
“Helloooo…!” they continue to call out. One little boy, a fat kid with a bowl cut makes himself heard above the others. “Hi, hi, hi!” he shouts, and I turn to look at him, smiling. He throws his chubby arms in the air and begins thrusting his hips rhythmically in my direction, punctuating each thrust with a curl of his lip, and a “Hello!!!” He looks like he‘s in pain. “Hello, hello, hello! Hello, hello, hello!“
The other boys are howling. What am I supposed to do? Encourage this? I know I shouldn’t laugh, but I can’t help it.