She looked at it, shocked, eyeing me with such gratitude that I was ashamed. She bowed. Voice trembling, she mumbled, "Thank-you-very-much-Uncle, thank-you-very-much."
And she seemed to want to say something else but didn't. And I wanted to say something, but couldn't. In that moment, she seemed awfully old. I felt terribly young. She jammed the bills into a pocket on her shirt where she held the baby. She hurried away, a lightness in her step. From acros the street, she turned, waved bye, and smiled.
Abruptly, the easing of tension I had felt as I gave her the money vanished. It was only my selfish conscience. I stood there sickened for her, gasping at her tragedy and my part in it. Oh, child. What have they done to you? What have I done? Her parents will send her back here again and again on the off chance of a windfall like today's. Oh, God. Why is she here? This beautiful child. What is her birth-fortune?"
- An excerpt from "Catfish and Mandala" by Andrew X. Pham
Where do you go when life takes you nowhere?
You pack your bags and travel to half a dozen cities, not quite sure what you're looking for. The constant moving around, the constant adapting to new environments leave you worn out. But still you keep a keen eye on your surroundings, trying as much as you can to soak up the sights, sounds and smell of the strange places you find yourself in. In the end, you learn so much more about people, about the world beyond your own, about a separate reality in which you could be living in but am not, and the incongruity of society often leaves you feeling powerless and overwhelmed.
And now to figure out what I should do with the rest of my life.