He was 12 years old. He had lost both his parents tragically. His grandmother was looking after him but he was really the one looking after her. She was very old and very blind.
This kid was exhausted. Mentally and psychologically drained.
Each morning at 6am, he dressed himself for school and then walked one hour to the bus stop. The bus took another hour. School was very important to him. His parents would have been so proud. He missed his mom every day. She wanted him to be a doctor.
I felt his warmth instantly. He was so full of dreams.
He did his sales pitch within 12 seconds in my presence. He offered to wash my car. I suggested once a week and he suggested the price. I tripled it and we had a deal.
My heart melted.
The deal lasted one and he never missed a day. We talked about his doctor dreams and laughed lots. My car was never really clean, but I was happy.
Around the 1 year anniversary of the Sunday sessions, he did not turn up at our agreed time. I knew something was wrong. The next week I waited again but my car was desperate for a wash. I took it to a professional car wash in the area. I recognised one of the guys who worked there. I had seen him talking to my favourite 12 year old before.
The other washer told me exactly where to find the 12 year old and I rushed straight to the local soccer field. I had to find out why he no longer wanted to clean my car.
It was worse than I had imagined! Much worse.
His grandmother had died. There had been a fire in their home and everything had burnt to the ground. He had nothing left and was living on the streets. He did not turn up because he was so distraught! I felt sick.
My heart broke into a thousand tiny pieces.
When I finally got home that evening, I realised that something was missing from my car. My house keys! Damn! I went back to the car wash. I met the same washer who had done such a good job earlier. He said “So? Did you talk to him?” and just as I was about to say “Isn’t it sad? What on earth can WE do for him?” he said “His mother and father have to be strict, you know. He needs to focus more on his schoolwork and spend less time doing bad things. Next time he will go to jail!”
It turns out my little friend had played me. His parents were still alive. His grandmother too. She was not blind either! And, their family home was in perfect shape, just 3 minutes from the local school.
I felt numb. Just numb.
I did not confront him. I did not need to.
To me, the story was tragic enough. I did not need reasons. I did not need explanations.
To understand his motives would be to open my heart up again. Fortunately, that was not an option.
I reckon my 12 year old is in his twenties now. I wonder if he still dreams of healing and saving lives.
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