The hollow of the bridge where Ato was sitting in a box spreaded odor of trash, dogshit, water ditch, and released hot vapour stinging like being fried in a frying pan..The dusty and dirty singlet Anto wore had blackened tightly. His body odor was like dead mouse’s odor as he didn’t took a bath for some weeks.
He woke up with blurry face like a Mummy or resurrecting dead. His eyes stared wildly at uncomfortable looking of sorrounding. A bulk of garbage mountained, dirty and muddy field streamed by a small river which had brownish black water mixed with sewage, fragranting sting odor. Those were scenery he ever knew as to day.
The seven years boy fully didn’t understand who his father and mother were. He just knew his foster mother, Ma Eroh. He was found by her in the hollow of the bridge when he was still a red infant with uncutting filament. Ma Eroh said that he was considered having died till she touched him and the baby cried . And since that Ma eroh looked after him and brought him up till she died. May be that’s the last information he got from Ma eroh before her dying. For the time being , to keep his life he became a beggar. If he could’t make money, compulsorily, he ate any remain of trash and drank water ditch.
The little boy was living in a terrifying civilization. Noise came from lighting iron machines over the bridge.
That day Ato was sitting wealkly on the sand contained cork box. His pupil looked at the landscape of the city. The sky craver building looked like mocking him every morning. Sorrounding Jakarta city didn’t care at all with his sorrow.
Police officers with brown uniform always became enemy for him. The hit of the city police officers’ stick gave deep impression to him. More over, village gangsters whose job were stealing and robbing became a threat for him every day. Even one of his friend was sodomed by them. The social and natural sorrounding he lived had made him fierce and cruel. He had no respect to anyone, except to Ma Eroh who had died.
Ato’s highest wish was to have a guitar with which he could “ngamen” along street. But the wish was just like a dream, all his dream had ruined.His stomach hadn’t been filled for three days. Last day he just drank ditch water. He didn’t find anything when he looked something to eat in the garbage. His body was weaker, even just to walk he couldn’t. So he just was sitting on the box.
A little far from him a boy in same age with him appeared. His face was bakened brown by sunlight. He wore a blue torn levis and a dusty black T shirt. He was Aji, Ato’s best friend.The thin, short, bald headed boy was coming on Ato’s place. But Ato pretended to ignore him.
“ Eh, stupid, where have you been for three days?” asked Aji.
Ato just stared at Aji without being able to say something.
“ Why do you keep silent To, Are you angry with me?”
“ I have been three days without food”
“ So we are the same , I also haven’t eaten. I guessed you to have much food, so I came here. I have looked for food in the bulk of trash, but no food was there,” Aji sighed.
“ All this day I just drank stream water,” Ato lamented.
“ Eh, To you will die fasten if you too often drink stream water. It was told by your foster mother. So what will you do now?,” asked Aji.
“ I don’t know, my body chilled out.”
“ You had better be willing to be sodomed by Anton Gedek. You will get some food . I am sure your stomach will be full enough,” Aji offered his idea with holding Ato’s soulder.
Ato untighted Aji’s grip from his shoulder, shaking his head.
“ It is better for me to die.”
“ Well, if you wouldn’t, where could you find some food?”
Ato’s face became pale . One part of his body was getting pain, but he had to look for some food.
“ Ji, carry me on on your back, I would like to begging “ Ato answered
“ Is it that you can’t walk alone?”
“ I can’t wake up Ji, I have been sitting here fot two days.”
Aji put Ato on his back. He brought him up to the bridge. Aji succeded in leaning Ato against concrete fence of the bridge. Sunlight baked skin. Metromini, Mikrolet, motor, cars, go passing away crossing the bridge one another. Feet with sandals or shoes passed away in front of Ato’s body which was lying down weakly.Sunlight touched Ato’s redden black face. The empty plastic glass he put was scattered on the trotoar. Aji took a rest sitting beside Ato.
“ To, are you still stand for living like this?”
“ I don’t know, Ji But I remembered Ma Eroh’s message before she died. She said I must follow life whatever like it is patiently and willingly,” Ato said.
“ Well, it is like that, I never see you stealing”.
“ Yeah, though I don’t understand I must admit my destiny,” His face rather brightened.
“ You are right Ato, so may be tonight later I will come back again, binging you some food if I could, “ Aji said, leaving Ato lonely.
Sunlight sting had faded away. Its slap was weaker. Some coins of chance were fallen into the plastic glass. Ato’s face was happy to see some coins given by passing people. Some people felt forced to give because Ato urged them. But some others gave because of pity for the boy.
But it can’t be understood why are there still many people around him thought that being a beggar was a kind of making fool or pulling someone’s leg, lazy people and not willing to work. Ato did such as that really because nothing to do to make money except stealing.
And this is not a kind of making fool as Ato was already a fool boy. He never got education , even he had no ablity to read and write. One thing he thought was how he could eat everyday. Politics, economy, culture, law, and security, he didn’t care at all.
So, it was wrong if he was considered as garbage or rubbish of civilization because actually, for Ato, being a beggar was also embarrasing. How pitiful it was to imagine a little boy like him holding his hand, degradating his self esteem and honour just to get some food to shift his colon. Is this a foolishness or people are fool to be misery to allocate some money to give badly needing person. This is the most civilized and sophisticated civilization that must be faced by the little boy, like Ato!.
Till dusk, ten coins of chance were collected. Ato was rather calm because a few later he could eat. The thick yellow sunlight warmed his body which lying down over the bridge . But in the evening two gangsters came on Ato. Their eyes googled like lightening knife. Their hair were untidy. Their neck and hand were covered with metal. They stared at presenting fierce face like angry cat.
“ Hei dog, why do you beg here, disturbing my pass, don’t you know I am the ruler of this area”, said one of them.
“ I am just a hollow boy, I am thriving to get some food”, Ato replied.
“ No care whoever you are. You looked for food in my area you must give your contribution to me”, said one of them , slapping Ato’s head.
“ Where are your gain? I’ll take all”, the other gangster said plundering coins in the plastic glass.
“ No, don’t take it, I haven’t eaten”, Ato defended his last treasure.
“ It is not my bussiness!” said the gangster plundering Ato’s wealth.
With his last strength Ato tried to get back his possesion, but a big strike slapped on his face.
Feel my fist!”,said the gangster leaving the pity and weak boy.
“ You bastard”, said another gangster kicking Ato who was lying up in the trotoar.
Ato just cried and screamed in heart. His eyes redden, salty tears flowed over his black and blurry cheeks. His hearth was pain and dissapointed . He felt treated dishonestly and opressed by treatment like that. He screamed again to the world and wild civilization sorround him.
“ AAAAAAKKKHH”, Ato screamed trembling civilization sky.
He was angry to all beings on earth, whether the fate like this should be received. Do all people not care about his sorrow?
His stomach got ache like being trusted by knife. His head felt weighted like burdened by big stone. His chest trembled unabled to endure this sorow. He groaned to God. He also wanted to blast himself with a bomb or nuclear. So all people realized that he was the most sorrowest people on earth.
Ato’s stomach got pain, not only hungry but also like many animals gnawing in his stomach. His body was just skeleton, his face paled, his breath was in rush, his head was puzzling. He tried to defend from his pain. Some people passing the place as if ignoring his sorrow. They just passed as if hoping him to die fast. Dying like a dog, They thought if he was dead , his corpse was thrown in to river, flowed in to sea.
Ato’s eyes stared at sky starting to redden. White cloud moved togetherly without stoping. His hearth was desperate. If he should die he has been willing. Nothing he would do except keeping silent and enjoying his last minutes of his life.
An old Woman approached him. The woman was wearing dirty and bad smelling clothe, with thick curly hair and black skin. She was standing beside Ato. Her hand was holding a plastic full of remnants. Her black eyes looked at Ato sharply.
“ What happened to you?’ she asked.
“ I am hungry, no food,” Ato replied smoothly.
Then the old lady took out something from her plastic. She threw a piece of rotten and tindery cake to Ato. He caught it like getting fallen durians, with his remain strength he ate the food fiercely, like a tiger preying a deer. Without long consideration, Ato eat the food in rush. He put in a piece of cak into her mouth, without tasting how bitter and rotten it was. While the old lady went away from Ato. In a few seconds all the cake had been in his stomach.
His stomach was rather full enough. Though his body was still weak and his stomach still got ache. But he still could be relax and made day dreaming. He got enlightment that to get happiess in life, what to do is by not seeing other people with their luxury and wealth they have. But by enjoying our life without caring to other people’s life. Like this evening , when sun started to set, its light made his heart and mind peacefully. The wing blowed cool. The birds flew over the sky. For a few moment he smiled to world….?!
But after that his head and his stomach got terrific ache. His mouth released out a liquid mixed with blood. His body trembled being poisoned by the cake. His eyes googled…, his mouth opened ad released foams. His soul was separated from his body, and his soul flew to paradise a ceompanied by angles!.
Bogor, Indonesian 2006