Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Butterfly Kids

"Do you have a cat?" barefooted Dina asks, sauntering across the chipped lane. She sits beside me on the doorstep. She peers myopically at my notes.
"Nope."
"Do you have a dog?"
"Nope."
"Well I like angora cats," announces the nine-year-old. "Call I give you my autograph?"

Her brother Caska scoots over on a Wimcycle bicycle to investigate.
A fruit seller with a lit cigarette in his mouth stops before us.
"Oranges?" he offers.
"I don’t have any money," Dina dismisses him.

"Did you have Christmas?" Dina asks, picking the sole of her left foot. They watch as I draw a snowman. "Islam doesn’t have snow," Dina says. She touches my hair, then turns to Caska and says, "People with white hair are Christians."

"Some Christians have black hair," he counters. "I'm learning about religion in Class 2."

A skinny boy approaches. H holds a butterfly pinched between his fingers. "Butterfly!" the children chant, practising the new English word. They stroke its quivering white body and furry face. The butterfly’s legs scramble against air. One wing is ragged and a fragment hangs untidily down. Rizki, the skinny boy, tears the fragment neatly off. The butterfly is passed around, then released. It flies up into the ivy behind us to die quietly out of reach.

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