In the smoke


TwitterimrauchRecently I was with the program "Children in Need". We first picked up a boy of maybe 10 years in one of the St. Martin homes. He was picked up by the police for lingering alone in the streets of the city at night. The social worker then found out that he was running away from home, why exactly, he did not want to say. But at least he has revealed where he comes from. So we drove off with the minibus, the boy the social worker, an intern, the driver and me. The boy showed us the way, the unpaved roads got worse and worse and more than once we had to turn around and look for another way. Until the social worker began to suspect that the boy deliberately led us astray, which seems to be a common behaviour in such cases. So we asked a man who was working in a field along the way. It turned out he knew the boy and so he led us to his parents' house. We only met the mother with three other children and a baby. The boy was very happy at first but then became increasingly restless and restrained. We were asked into the home, a simple wooden house made of boards where the wind whistled through the cracks. A pot stood on the fire with the lunch cooking. The social worker conversed with the mother and casually looked into the pot: the contents were not enough for the family; the mother explained that she would not eat today. And this despite still nursing the baby, the intern explained to me. The conversation continued, we stood around the cooking fire, up to the hip in the smoke with watery eyes. Outside, it started to rain. The intern tried to stoke the fire so the smoke eased a bit and told me that the mother does not know where the father is and that her answers are very confused and sometimes have nothing to do with the questions of the social worker. We would probably take the boy back with us, and first clarify the situation more precisely. And as we stood in the biting smoke and the rain drummed on the tin roof, the familiar trill of an incoming Twitter message could be heard. The contrast could not be bigger.