Sunday, June 08, 2003

A Sunday Morning Bath in the Streets

Sunday morning in Jakarta. I walked out from my hotel at around 10.30am into Jalan Wahid Hasyim. The streets were relatively quiet after a very busy Saturday night. I saw a mother bathing her child in a pail; the child squealing from the water and soap that was being poured over her by the mother. Many of the faces that I see along this road have become quite familiar to me now: they spend almost all their time here in the streets - peddling food or cigarettes, playing chess or just loitering.

I have gotten used here in Jakarta to see people leading their everyday lives - bathing, eating and sleeping - out in the streets. But to see the mother and child in the pail under the bright Sunday sky, soap and water splashing and spilling onto the sidewalk, I sense a certain peace and joy in their lives, despite their poverty. These are Pramoedya's children. And like I've mentioned before, they are the Soul of Jakarta.

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