This little piggy went to the market

By Colin Tom

I winced as she shook her beaded bracelets by my waist.

“Plllleeaasee, sir.  For school.  I need money for school,” the little girl cooed.

“I’m sorry,” I said, trying to keep my eyes ahead of me as I walked while also not trying to hate myself.

“Pleeeasse, suurh, you make me cry,” she said in her most desperate voice while tugging at my shirt.

I could feel my heart starting to rip at the seams when my guide intervened.   There was a quick exchange in Khumer before he cocked his head up, sighing. The girl remained steadfast, and returned to her cooing.

My guide stepped in again, this time with a childish grin on his face.  He grabbed her unwilling hand.  She tried pulling her arm into her body, but he was able uncurl her fingers.

“Noooooo stop!” she cried.

He spread her fingers and cracked each of her knuckles.

“I hate you! Stop!” she pleaded.

Her cries turned into restrained laughter.  She was breaking character.  Soon they were both giggling.

“It’s a game that the kids play,” my guide informed me.

The girl recollected herself.  She tugged at my shirt again, with wide sad eyes.

“Please siiiirrrr!”

My hand dove from above, cracking each of her knuckles.  Her giggles were unwilling, but powerful and the hard shell of a young merchant was penetrated by the laughter of a child.

I watched her walk away and return to her friends.  I was sorry that she was just one of the countless children I wouldn’t be able to help, but grateful that she wasn’t hardened entirely.  She was still just a child.

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