Children of the street
En route to my private dance class one early afternoon in the middle of the work week, I observed three girls, the oldest being perhaps 12 years and the youngest, having the benefit of 2 years. They made a dining table out of the passenger seat, setting pieces of nibbled pastry onto the seat as they sample another similar fare from the plastic bag that the oldest sister was loosely monitoring. The middle child one was nibbling lazily on an lack-lustre, unadorned pastry, she alternated draping herself on the seat and using it as a table; sprawling herself across the crumbs that she was creating in the process.
Thin, bird-like hands, brought the worthless morsel to her mouth at regular intervals of boredom. Short, wiry, unwashed hair collapsed around an uneducated face, which was speckled with spots of dirt. Her sister, the youngest, perhaps already satiated from the feast, ambled off shoelessly with a tiny, outstretched hand, moving deftly from passenger to passenger. Already aware of, and keen enough to be aware of, the stench of denial, she never paused too long before any one, scarcely made eye contact, but just moved non-concomitantly, with the skill and precision of a pick-pocketeer, navigating the crowd, deftly and emotionlessly assessing his next victim.
I pondered how long she had been in the business; she was barely 2 years old, yet, her skills at perception, was acute, and well honed. I couldn’t help but envision her life in 12 years where she would be skimpily dressed, just as the women on Salta street in Constitucion. She will be as she is now, without education, but then she will be equipped with a suitcase of tricks and cunning, plying her wares to the male passersby, employing every avenue of perception, and every iota of negotiation skill that she has acquired from this fledgling stage.