Written by @Joehairie (Photos by curiostraveller.com team members)
“To travel is to live.”-Hans Christian Andersen
It might not be the prettiest place to be at. It’s the wet market on the other side of the ground floor section. The floor, wet, with some fishy smell here and there. Not really an ideal place for sightseeing but at least it offers some ‘worldviews’ for outsiders, a medium to understand the minds of the people behind the scene and how some people dedicate their life to this place. This is a story about the little boy who loves to work at the market.
Never mind the politics, geography, origins or language. When strolling around at this market, I concentrated on the thoughts of the locals and migrants. My intention was to ably to ‘see through’ their minds, understand what they think about things around them, their survival. Simply put, the colors of their life.
While taking some photos randomly outside the market, I met with this little boy with such an unusual name. Perhaps he’s just making up his name but at least I did have some good conversation with him. It was him who came to me actually.
He saw me with my big Canon equipment and politely asked me take his picture. Of all the people I met inside and outside the market, this little boy did have great courage to talk more about his personal life, his thoughts so to say.
I didn’t need to check if he’s telling the truth about his name and origin. I didn’t insist to meet his parents just to ensure that he mentioned his real name. No need for that. For me, it’s better to talk to him rather than checking his identity.
I am not enforcing the law here, my intention is to see and understand about things around me. That is the function of a writer and a photographer.
He told me that his name is Hero (I bet that is not his real name). I asked him why his name is Hero. He told me that his elders named him Hero as he acts like one. He survived some hardship alone when he was still a toddler.
He did not elaborate about the hardship. However that name stick to this day and he is still a Hero because he help people around, especially his elders. He saved someone’s life before, no elaboration though.
He carries things around to help his elders. Of all his siblings, he claimed that he is the only child in his family that works in the Market. His other brothers and sisters always play around or stay at home without giving that much needed assistance.
He works from 6 a.m to 4 p.m, carrying stuffs to and fro. At times he will help shoppers to carry items using his small trolley and being paid for as little as RM2, depending on the size and weight of the items.
He helps his elders most of the time but he admitted to me that he actually prefer carrying items for shoppers as he gets more money, something that he can decide on his own what and when to buy without interference from anyone.
He does have friends at this market and they do work together, helping each other. All of them are still kids, ranging from 6 to 15 years old.
Fight is a norm. A small matter as he claimed. At times they envy each other about their daily collection or things like that but they will become friends again after that! Kids! Hero said he is attracted to a girl name Peisah or something, I couldn’t get the name, they all have strange names.
In developed countries, this is something to be considered as ‘Child Labor’, something considered inhumane. Most people will simply accuse someone in this market is trying to manipulate the children. Guess what..Hero considers himself as ‘an adult’.
He needs to work rather than being at school as it is the only way to survive. He himself is not interested at all to go to school. He works for the betterment of his family.
There’s no proper documentation anyway and it will be more difficult to enroll in school. Working at this market make ends meet. It is the only way to survive.
It is the one and only medium to find some money, help the family by providing some income. The market itself is a school for him. A place where he learns the meaning of life at a faster rate in comparison to the kids at school.
In modern thoughts, this is not acceptable but for his and his family as well as for some sellers in the market, this is not only a norm but a must. He might be growing up without proper education and that compulsory certificates, but at least he does learn something along the way. He learn how to survive, the hardest way.
We all might be a bit bias in presenting our current world-view. We always thought that those with greater level of education are the best but we tend to forget one thing.
Not all people in this world are given such privilege moreover if they are migrants let alone if they are illegal migrants. We tend to keep our state or country ‘border’ as it’s belong to us and not God!
We punish and underestimate all the migrants, sadly the children, includes. They grow up to be someone with less compassion towards others as the others ‘were’ not doing the same to him or her during younger age. We all think that the children of the migrants will grow up to be someone useless.
We judge them too early and they became what we wish for. This world and its citizens goes nowhere but backwards as discrimination and egos are the kings in our thoughts.
While I do understand how much we need to protect our country, at times there are some other ways on how to help the unfortunate. Kids are kids. They have to do things as told by their elders.
They need to do something to survive and while doing that we simply throw in some accusations of this and that as we fail to understand their inner thoughts and feelings.
If we force Hero to go to school, will he be happy? Is there anyone out there willing to help him with the documentation and constantly looking after his needs? No one? If that is the case, then let him work at the market. He said he loves working at the market as there is nothing else that he can do other than that.
Traveling is not only about admiring the beauty of the places you visit, traveling is about indulging in others culture, to understand why things occur and exist, ably to digest the complexity of life, learn new things, accepting things as they are and try to help people in your own way.
If you cannot help, I am sure people will appreciate if you just let them do things according to their own way, as long as it’s not something criminal, of course.
People become migrants for various reasons. They do not wish to be that way in the first place. If their place is good enough for them, they will not have enough reason to run away. We will do the same thing if we are in their shoes.
Things happen for some reasons. Illegal migrants are illegal migrants, they break the rule(s) once they enter another country but it is not an excuse to punish them severely.
This world is not ours. We all die sooner or later. Nothing in this world we can take with us to the grave. Regardless of your religion or race or origin. This world belongs to God, not us. Children are children.
They do things according to what have been taught to them. If what they are doing are wrong, teach them nicely, talk to them with positive thinking.The least we all can do is to understand their environment, what makes them to be this and that.
I am not suggesting that we put up a new world order. That’s the job of our world leaders. We are the citizens. Our job is to help each other in a way that we think is rational. There are channels and ways to help those in need.
There is no need to simply punish the unfortunate. The elders might have made some mistake but please be compassionate with the children.
Understand, understand and understand. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t underestimate kids who are not fortunate enough to be at school. The more we judge them, the more ‘nasty’ they will become some day and that is when we will face some real problems.
The history of this world showed that tendency, the blacks and the whites, the Israel and Palestinian, sadly it is kind of repeating with that many many miles of wall, said to be erected soon. There was a wall in Germany, it’s gone for good and that is good.
While we all are debating about the pros and cons of this and that, one thing for sure, Hero is happily working at ‘his’ market. Let him do that, at least he use his own strength and brain to get some money.
Let’s hope that someday, he will find better things to do and God willing he will grow up as one wonderful person. His ‘world-view’ is his and ours are ours.
Hero, do know that we don’t live in this world forever. Certificates are just one type of many formalities in this world. What really count is, what’s in our heart and our ‘little’ contribution if not to the nation at least to our family members. Remember that and stay away from criminal activities.
Keep working in that market if that is what you think will make you happy. See you some day. Cheers. For the world travelers, learn while being on the road, places is not only about its beauty but more to what you can indulge, experience and learn. Be inspired by people around you.