Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It is always beautiful when they smile.

Today, we just went out on the streets and played.
We played like we used to, and like they should be used to.
We went out on Hamra street. We drew a few lines and colored the numbers.
We just went out to play and we knew that we wont be the only ones playing.

The second we pulled out our colored pastels and started drawing, a little boy came running across the street from the distance looking with piercing eyes at the colors and wondering what was happening.

Slowly they became two, then four, then eight, and then we were surrounded by young boys who just wanted to learn the rules of the game to be able to play it.

They just wanted to play... And today, without any specific law, formula, or institution they had a few hours of fun. They jumped and laughed and smiled and focused on the rules and kept wanting to play.

It was easy for them to play. They know it so well in their hearts that it beat right out of them when they saw us drawing. They sensed from the colors that it was time to play, and for once, it was there for them. This time, this game met them where they are.
For once, they did not have to be displaced to attain the luxury of playing.
For once, they did not have to imagine the possibilities of having fun.
For once, and for a couple of hours, they did not have to do anything but play.
For once, these little boys were able to just be, as they are, for who they are, for how old they are.

Not once did they ask for money. Not once did they try to sell us anything.
They just ran towards the game and floated on the colors.

We went out on the streets today and just played with who we all just easily call "Street Children". Somehow they forgot their draining duties and got in touch with their innocent impulses, those impulses they are forced into shutting off.

And the games kept going. We jumped all together taking turns. One hop. People walked by us. Two hops. The young, the old, and the babies. Three hops. And the people are passing. Few are the compassionate. Few are the wise. Few were the smiles. Many are the heartless. Many with judging eyes. Some came right in and played with us. Some looked at them like they had no right to play. Nothing mattered to all of us. We were there for the boys; we were there to play with them, to remind them of their every right to play, of their every right to dare to smile.

They looked at the colored numbers and it felt like they forgot the world around, they forgot the meaning of this place. This place they walk everyday, this place they beg money on everyday, this place where they are humiliated everyday, this place that has become their defining name, this place where they are beaten up and beaten down, this place where they lose of themselves a lot everyday, this place, this street, was transformed, and it was somehow giving back to them a spark of what they have lost. It gave them back the availability of having fun.

Smiles sprinkled out of them like magic, and they just played...

Photography by Rawane Khalil.
(More of her work: www.rawanekhalil.blogspot.com)