A Day with Berlin

In my senior high school year, as part of our shitty mandatory CAT program – lame version of ROTC – we were to conduct some sort of community service. Of course, at that time, we were pretty much living in One Tree Hill – so, lots of drama and heartaches and all that banal shit.

We ended up feeding children from the poorer sectors of our area. And for our safety reasons, the children were transported to the school, instead of us going to them. To say it was another bane in my life, would make me a liar, as that day made me realize how petty our problems can be.

So, like I said, we were living in One Tree Hill and the problems our gang faced: girl not accepting either love of two boys (Luke-Brooke-Peyton thing, but the genders all switched up), boy falling in love with his best friend (Luke-Haley somehow ending up in Jane by Design universe), some father issues (Fuck you Dan!!! Keith, noooooooo!), the upcoming prom night and of course, graduation.

As the children arrived, there was a moment of awkwardness from both sides. A stare down, utter silence, a rolling tumbleweed.  The kids, staring and probably thinking “Who the fuck are these guys?” And us, staring back, thinking, “Fuck, now what?”

So, after a couple of minutes of gentle dragging, and luring the children with small plastic toys for bait that are, hopefully lead free, we got them to warm up to us. The children were separated into groups, some listening to stories, others playing, others were raiding the big ass sack of toys. While everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, one particular boy, who didn’t even look like five – either he was four or three-years-old or malnourished – sat alone, looking down and on the verge of breaking into tears whenever anyone tried to approached him.

I had this knack with kids, and maybe it’s my degenerative immature and childish mind that probably somehow got me to get along with children. So anyway, the kid said his name is Berlin, and we played tag, hide-and-seek, and finally got him to play with the other children. Lunch came by, and as everyone ate, Berlin only finished 1/12 of his meal – I’m not kidding, and that’s like what, a half-spoon of rice? He closed the styrofoam and put it on his backpack.

“Why don’t you just finish that, and I’ll get you more to take home later,” I said.

Berlin shook his head, “Not for me. I’m taking this to my mom so she can eat too.”

He wasn’t the only one. Another kid approached me, and asked if it’s alright to not eat their food and just give it to their parents. A third asked me if they can take home two.

I don’t know what the story is. I cannot judge how these kids – hungry kids – could think of taking their food home so their parents can eat them later. Did the parents tell them that? Maybe, it’s a possibility, there’s a lot of twisted people in the world. But I’d rather look the other way, believing that these kids were more than aware of their situation, and learned to become adults when they’ve barely had six years in their life.

It simply, made me feel bad, and I looked around and saw the entire Tree Hill gang, and well, they looked shit and malnourished even moreso than the children that had zero in everything. It’s probably cheesy to say that in the end, it was the children who fed me, spiritually in some way and gave me a chance to get a better perspective in life.

So I don’t know, a guy tweeted quite recently how pissed he was because he dropped his BlackBerry, somehow made me feel sad for the dick. I mean, as a tech journalist I can honestly say BlackBerries are getting a bit too close to extinction *glares at Android and iOS products* – but still, it’s a material thing, and if you dropped it, it’s your own fucking fault, suck it up and shut up. I’ve also been hearing a lot of complaints from other people about things that aren’t really, well, big. I mean, I dropped my phone and busted its mic, so every time someone calls me, I have to plug in earphones with a mic to communite, but I’m not bitching about it (hopefully mentioning this doesn’t count), I just shrugged it off. Some people bitch how they don’t have money, basically because they’ve overspent on expensive food, clothes, and movies.

Sometimes I do think less is better – not just in writing stuff but in lifestyle, the less we have, the humbler we may become. I know that’s not always the case. But the ratio sure is badly tipped. I guess it is human nature to take things for granted.

I think about Berlin, the situation he’s in. It’s been seven years, he’s probably going to turn into a junkie soon if his lifestyle remains as it is, but he seems smart, and I hope he’ll make it through with some prayers and luck.

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