I live opposite a corner shop.
I used to love this fact, because I got to see all my friends in the neighbourhood at some point during the day or night. I basically lived on the shop’s stoep and became a bad ass pool player, thanks to friends who have since passed on. During the holidays I would sit there from the moment the sun lit up the stoep, until my mother phoned the coin phone in the shop for me to come home on some occasions. I had the best times there.
But this is also where I learned a lot of life lessons by watching so many become slaves to drugs and the hustle, resulting in some of them being locked up. I learned to stand my ground after being a shy person when I was younger. I, myself learned how to hustle for a bottle on a Friday night but never, in all my desperation for a loose Stuyvesant did I end up a statistic, a teen mother.
Now there is a new generation reigning over my beloved stoep, a more dangerous generation, a more careless generation. They seem to thrive on the notion that everything is owed to them. They live like being awarded a life is a punishment. In the past two years, two teenage girls -whom I thought were made from the strong stuff- were impregnated. Alas, my thoughts led me astray. And as an outsider looking in, they are not even ashamed of this; it’s like it is some sort of accomplishment for them. At this tender age one would think girls still spent time regarding themselves as too good but this seems to have faded into the background aswell.
I am aware that this happens the world over, but this stoep -that I still frequent every day- is my reality.
It irks me that we, society, have failed these children. Yes, we failed them. Because our lives and circumstances have evolved to a point where we are scared to tell another’s child what is right and wrong, where in the past that is exactly what kept most of us from wandering down dark paths. Today however, society portrays one thing and does another.
When did we reach this point where we are so entwined in our lives that we cannot spare a word of encouragement for the lost looking teenager on the corner? Or the little one looking for food even though he should be in school.
My heart aches when I think what the generation after this will be capable of. At this point I wonder if my children will have anything good to grow up to.