Story about one of street chikdren in Mongolia

May 18, 2008
By Jisu Yoo, Pottersville, NJ

My name is Socom, and I am 17 years old. I am from Mongolia. Last month I ran away from my house because my father got drunk and hit my sister after I’d said, “Get out of here and get some money for your family.” My mom always tried to stop him but it didn’t work.
One day my mom told me, “I will earn some money and be back. Please wait for me, my loves.” That was my mom’s last scene. She never came back. In those days, my father was more likely to use violence on us. When she was gone, our house was not a sweet home anymore. I thought my father would regret what he’d done, but he didn’t. He was an alcoholic. He didn't try to find our mother. He just kept bothering us to get out of the house. That’s why I am a street child now. What about my sister? I don’t know what happened to her.
“I will not come back anymore. Is this your desire? Huh?” I shouted before I went out the door. My father was drunk and said nothing, but my sister kept on crying.
“I will follow you. Where are you going? Please let me follow you too!” She shouted.

“You are a girl and the youngest. I will bring our mother back. I promise,” I said.
That’s all. Hence she will still be there. If he is our real father, he will not make her be a street child as I am. My sister Ella is only 14 years old. Ella is not an adult yet.
My first day on the streets, I tried to find my mother. I went to a marketplace, a station, and a park. Properly she was nowhere. She had just disappeared. I don’t want to think about it, but a crew who works in a station told me he saw a girl crying in a corner of the train.
“Mrs., Need some tissues?” he had asked.
But she didn’t want any. She was wearing a flower pattern blue skirt that looked old. That’s it. I’m sure it was my mom. That day was when she left our home. After I heard what he said I gave up to go back home and keep my promise with my sister.
Everyday I begged and begged. It was easier than finding a job because no one wants to employ a teenager who doesn’t have a place to sleep. They just looked at me strangely, like a criminal. I decided to go to a familiar supermarket and ask about my mother. I thought that store was very friendly with our family because they always showed us kindness and we knew each other’s news. My mom always visited that supermarket and chatted with the hostess for sometimes 3 hours. However, the shopkeeper hadn’t seen her. None of their closeness mattered now. She was just a shopkeeper and my mother was just a customer. I felt sad and disappointed about their behavior.
“Can I just work here for a month?” I asked to shop keeper, and told all about my situation, but she hesitated no more. In a decisive voice, she made me get out of her supermarket because of the other customers. I felt not sad, but betrayed. I can feel people avoiding me on the street, looking at me fearfully. That’s why I started begging. It’s easier than finding a job. For the adults, tourist, or market place. I miss my mom and my sister. Sometimes I miss my father too. It looks very absurd to you, but it is true. He was not like that before he lost his job. My father was the head of a small company, but six months ago he lost his job with the government. The government said stop selling, we will buy cheaper than yours from another country. My father refuted what the government said, but the government already signed an agreement with another country. My father went bankrupt. After it happened, he changed toward us. He bought us robots, pretty dolls, Adidas wear or Nike shoes before he went bankrupt but he didn’t buy things for us anymore. Moreover, he sold them to others. My sister Elia and I didn’t get angry or cry. We’re young, but we knew that my father didn’t mean it. We knew he would come out of it and would buy these again. Probably my father thought the same as us too, but it wasn’t easy. He always looked sad and got drunk. That’s the beginning of how our family was broken.
Today, I saw a boy sitting down on the street corner staring at me, friendly, not like the people on the road. I answered his stare. I walked up to him.
“What is your name boy?” he asked.
“My name is Socom, what about you?” I asked.
“Hi, my name is Kadomo. Nice to meet you. You look like you haven’t lived on the street for long. How long did you live here?” Kadomo said.
“Maybe more than a month,” I said.
“Interesting, because I haven’t seen you. I’ve lived on the street for more than a year. Probably, I’m a big senior for you. Anyway, where are you sleeping at?” Kadomo asked.
“Anywhere. The entrance of the building or front of the market,” I said.
“Oh, aren’t people kicked out when they’re sleeping there?” Kadomo asked.
“Yes, they are. Why not? I always struggle to sleep,” I said.
“You’re lucky to have met me. If it weren’t summer you could be dead, you know how cold Mongolian winter is. It’s the same as Mt. Siberia,” Kadomo said.
“I know. I was worried about it too,” I said.
“Follow me, foolish lucky boy, I’ll show you my shelter. If you like it, you can live with me. Follow me,” Kadomo said.
Kadomo was really dirty, even dirtier than I am. He was very skinny but he looked like he had lots of information, more than I. Moreover, he looked like he could be a great friend. I was lonely on the street by myself.
Suddenly, Komodo stopped walking and tried to open the manhole cap on the street.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Don’t ask. Just help me,” Kadomo said.
“Huh?” I said.
“This is the way to our shelter,” Kadomo said.
I tried to help him. Finally we opened it. There were stairs going down to black shadows, and I felt scared.
“How can I see when we close this cap?” I shouted.
“You can adapt like me. Just close it,” Kadomo said.
So I closed it. He had lied; I couldn’t see. There was no color to see, but at the end of the stair, I could feel flat and could hear the mice.
“It smells yucky and the place is not that clean. But it’s warm and no one can expel you if police or adults see you,” Kadomo said.
“You’re right, but I still can’t see anything,” I said.
“Why do we need to see? Is that important here? You just need to find the stairs,” Kadomo said.
He was right. This couldn’t be sweet home. What was I expecting?
We were sitting and talking to each other. Kadomo told me he is an orphan because his father set fire to his house. His mother and father both died in the fire, and only he survived. After it happened, he was sent to his grandmother’s house but she couldn’t care for him. Kadomo said his grandmother was always annoyed, and he was turned out of her house. When he listened to my story, he looked more serious than me.
“Your father’s problem was the same as mine. Our parents were always fighting because of money. It’s so funny. Money made people die. It's just paper. It took people who loved each other and made me alone. But I still need that damn money. So weird,” Kadomo said.
We didn’t say anything after he said that. I could feel that he was thinking about his parents like I was.
“This is boring. You want some bread?” he asked me. He broke the silence.
“Sure. Do you have any?” Kadomo asked.
“Here. This is from Mrs. Odval’s Bakery. They throw away these breads on Wednesday and Saturday. Remember it,” Kadomo said.
“How come did you know that?” I asked.
“I told you I am a big senior. Ha-ha,” Kadomo laughed, so I laughed too.
After I ate some bread, I fell asleep. In my dream, I saw my sister calling my name and my father hugging her and sight changing to the color black. I was calling my dad and saying no, I couldn’t see anymore. It was a bad dream.
We lived there for five months. We lived like brothers. Every day we begged outside, came back to the basement, and shared what we had. Today was different. This was winter so no one gave me coins. This was Wednesday, but Margaret’s bread store was not opened for us. I was trying to go back to the shelter when I saw a bus. It was a huge bus for tourists. I felt happy because it was a chance to get some money. I ran faster and said to them, “One dollar, please.”
A lady looked like she would reach in her purse, but it turned out she was not trying to open the wallet. “Mrs., one dollar please.” She looked at me coldly.
“Go away!" Did your father and mother tell you to come to me and repeat “one dollar? It’s not funny to me. I know what you guys are doing. Go to your father and mother and say what I said, cute boy,” she said.
However, I couldn’t understand what she said, because it was in a different language. I felt angry, because I had been slighted by that tourist. I knew what I did was a bad thing. No, I mean I knew it had been wrong, but she doesn’t know how I live, how I am hungry, and why I am doing this. She spoke too roughly. I know when I hear that tone. I’m not a fool; two months ago, I was at school and studying well. I couldn’t control myself and I was really hungry… She looked distracted, and when I turned my face to that huge bus, I saw a camera. It looked expensive. It was worth a lot, and if I had it, I wouldn’t need to think about meals for a week with Kadomo. I knew that I could steal that camera. I had never thought of stealing before. My heart was thumping. I said to myself, ‘She was mean to you, hence you can get revenge by stealing her things. It will be nothing to her, because she looks distracted. She can buy another. It’s okay Socom, don’t be afraid.’ I got on the bus and tried to reach the seat that the camera was on, and I grabbed it, feeling very nervous. As I grabbed the camera and looked through the window to see if anyone had noticed, one tourist started shouting at me.
“It’s a thief! Oh my, he’s on the bus!” she shouted.
Then someone wearing the uniform of a bus driver ran up to the bus. I felt so afraid. I couldn't run away because my feet froze and never tried to move. The bus driver was on the bus and came close to me.
“You come here. Do not move!” he shouted to me.
I start crying. He was wearing a cap so I couldn’t see his face. He didn’t try to catch me. He just stared at me.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. I just am too hungry to think. I’m sorry Mr.,” I ask for quarter. “Please sir. I don’t want to go jail. Please,” I cried.
“Sacom, run away from here. Faster than anyone and come back home,” he said. What did he say?
“Run!! Sacom,” he shouted.
I ran the confusion of the moment. How did he know my name? I never thought it possible, but he was my dad. I ran and ran. A man was trying to catch me.
“Be careful! The boy has a knife!” Father shouted at the man. Then he stopped chasing me and stepped aside for me.
I knew that my father was back. He was working now. I cried and cried but my mouth was happy. I could go back to my real shelter tonight. As soon as possible, I needed to tell the news to my friend Kadomo. I opened the manhole cap.
“Kadomo! Kadomo! Are you there?” I shouted.
“Why are you shouting? Come down. Did you get anything?” he said.
I climbed down the stairs quickly.
“What did you get?” he said.
“Guess. I want you to be happy to hear my news,” I said.
“So, it’s not about food? Then I don’t want hear about it,” he said.
“Hey, It’s not a little thing. I can go back to my home,” I said.
“You are crazy. There will be a drunken dad waiting for you. Oh, one more, your annoying sister,” he said.
“I never thought my sister was annoying,” I said.
“She will be. When you go back to your home,” he said.
“Listen, I met my father today,” I said.
“Was he drunk?” he asked.
“I would have thought he would be, but he wasn’t,” I said.
“What, he looks rich? However, he will not invite you back, because you ran away from the house,” he said.
“It wasn’t like that. Everything you guessed is not true. He is not rich but he is trying to get rich, and he told me to come back home. Isn’t it great?” I said.
“So what?” he talks bluntly.
“What do you mean? I will go back to my house today. Thank you for being my friend, Kadomo. I will miss you,” I said.
“I hate you. You will not miss me. You don’t think of me as a friend. Good-bye. Well take care.” He looks angry.
I couldn’t understand why he was angry. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to leave a friend in this mood.
“Hey, Kadomo. You are my friend. What do you mean? Why do you look angry?” I asked.
“I don’t know. You can live here, right? We've lived as friends for three months. Why are you leaving? What about me?” Kadomo said.
He started to cry. I felt sad. I hadn’t thought about his feelings. Kadomo is an orphan so he doesn’t have the chance to go back anywhere. I was thinking about my house but our house is poor too.
“I’m sorry. I’m very sorry. I am not that good a friend, but I will see you once a week, I promise. We are still friends,” I said.
Then I went running back to my house. After I said, “We are still friends”, he hugged me hard and said “Thank you.” If I reach my home, I will tell my family about him. I run and run. I’m so happy. My house is little bit far from here, but I don’t stop at once. Finally I can see the red roof house, and I open a door carefully. I want to see my sister and father quickly. My heart thumps, but not the same as when I was on the bus. My house looks so clean. I go to kitchen because it smells really nice. I wonder if my mother has come back. But she hasn’t. It is my sister Elia. She is trying to bake bread.
“Elia!” I call.
“Sacom, you’re come back!” She says.
“Don’t get close to me, I’m so dirty,” respond.
“Who cares? You’re my brother,” she hugs me.
“I’m sorry,” I say.
“Don’t be sorry. Seat anywhere.”
I sit on the chair and we start talking.
“How did you learn cook?” I ask.
“I just learned by myself. It’s easy for me,” she answers.
“Did you learn baking bread by yourself?” I am worried.
“No, after I learned how to use kitchen materials, I started to get interested in how to cook. I asked a neighborhood and Mrs. Oyanbilig, who’s working in the grocery store,” she said.
I ask her carefully about my mom.
“She sent mail to us two weeks ago. My father looked sad but I’m not, because it means my mother is alive somewhere. There was nothing to say. Just about I’m good, but there was no address from anywhere,” she says.
I feel sad, and I hope she’s doing well whenever she is.
“Where is father?” I ask.
“Upstairs. You want me to go with you? ”
“No, it’s okay alone,” I say.
“Oh, I forgot to say something. Welcome back. I’m happy to see you again,” She says.
I smile back. I go upstairs and think before I knock at the door. What can I say about this morning? He will think I was stealing every day.
“Come in. I know you are there,” He says.
I open a door and see my father’s face. He looks worn out. Sorrow and anxiety wear a man more than hard work.
“Sorry,” I say.
“No, it’s all by my fault,” He says.
“No, I’m sorry. Whether you believe me or not, I haven’t stolen before.”
“I believe you, my boy.”
He walks close to me and hugs me hard.
“Son please forgive me,” he says.
“I already have,” I reply.
“When you were gone, I thought you’d come back again but you didn’t. I was trying to find you, and saw the advertising for a job offer. It was not better than before, but I felt I needed to do any work for you and your sister Elia,” he says.
“I’m so proud of you to come back,” I say.
“I’m ready for dinner!” The voice comes from downstairs.
“Let’s go and don’t be afraid of your sister’s cooking. It’s really nice of her,” father says. I laughed when he said “afraid.”
When I sit on the chair, there is fried chicken on middle of the table, tomato soup, eggs, bread and cookies.
“How did you make all of these?” I ask.
“I told you. Taste some,” she say.
“Smells really nice,” I say. When I bite some off, I can’t believe that my little sister made this. The bread is really soft, the soup is nice, and the chicken is better than my mom’s chicken.
“Listen everyone. I have a dream,” she says.
“What is it?” Father asks.
“Be a cook,” she answers.
I smile with my father, happy. After I ran away from this house, my father looked for me and found a new job and became a new person. At that time my sister learned to cook by herself and she had a dream. When I came back, everything was like before, except my mother. I believe she will come back and we’ll all live like today. There will be no chicken tomorrow, but we can be happy with tomato soup and a small piece of bread. It’s my sweet home. I look around my table, and my father starts laughing. My sister and I follow his laugh. I can feel how happy everyone is, and so can they.

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