baby for rent

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Every time I pass the hospital’s gate to visit my brother, I saw a young woman begging
while cradling  her baby. As  I know beggars usually looks slouchy with faces to be pitied.
But this one is different, she looks clean and smiles the time receiving the alms.
It’s inviting my attention.

One other day after the visit I have to wait for the heavy rain at the bus stop.
Then I saw her again sitting in the corner but looks gloomy.
I approached her and try to open a conversation, “Hi my name is Mei what’s yours?.
She answered reluctantly, “Kartina”.
“You have a beautiful name, how old your baby is?” while observing the baby.
He was so thin, yellow and his eyes glazed.
She looks at me with a rather wide-open eyes “He is not my baby!” she said firmly.
I was a bit surprised, “Oh I am so sorry…, I thought he is your baby because I saw you
cradle him every day!”.
“I rent him!”, she said with a barely heard sound.
This time I really shocked but try to distract her attention by offering candies.
She took and straightly eat it.
I asked her again, “I often seeing you smile, but today you seem gloomy?”
She replied without hesitation “I only get Rp. 12 thousand since this morning while
the rent of this baby is Rp. 25 thousand for one day”. she stopped, look at me with hope.
“He should be returned at 19.00 every day. But tomorrow they would not let me bring him
if I do not pay today’s rent” she sighed.
“Why should you bring the baby, isn’t that even a hassle ?”
“Well….  by carrying him my revenue could be tripled”.
“How much is your income in a day?”
“Not necessarily, but at least Rp.140 – 170 thousand !” a little pride splashed at the look of her face”.
Speechless ….   didn’t know what to say…..  wondered what was happening in this world.
Left her a little box of candy then said goodbye.
Went home in the cold rain yet the inside of me burning.

After the incident I never want to look at the place she was begging, I don’t have
heart to see the baby in her arms.
I would never know, whether the human moral has been slumped or this life that ruthless.

***

– mei –

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