We put on dirty, torn clothes, we take off our shoes, we soil our faces and hands. We go out into the street, we stop, we wait.
When a foreign officer passes us, we raise our right hands in salute and extend our left hands. Usually the officer walks by without seeing us, without looking at us.
Finally an officer stops. He says something in a language we don’t understand. He asks us questions. We don’t answer. We stand motionless, one arm raised, the other held out. Then he fumbles in his pockets, places a coin and a bit of chocolate in our own dirty hands, and goes off, shaking his head.
We go on waiting.
A woman passes by. We hold out our hands. She says:
"Poor kids. I have nothing to give you."
She strokes our hair.
Another woman gives us two apples, another some biscuits.
A woman passes by. We hold out our hands. She stops and says:
"Aren’t you ashamed to beg? Come with me, I’ve got easy little jobs for you. Cutting wood, for example, or cleaning up the terrace. You’re big enough and strong enough for that. Afterward, if you work well, I’ll give you some bread and soup."
"We don’t want to work for you, madam. We don’t want to eat your soup or your bread. We are not hungry."
"Then why are you begging?"
"To find out what effect it has and to observe people’s reactions."
She walks off, shouting:
"Dirty little hooligans! And impertinent too!"
On our way home, we throw the apples, the biscuits, the chocolate, and the coins in the tall grass by the roadside.
It is impossible to throw away the stroking on our hair.