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        "Did you drive today, Titoy?" I ask. The husband and his brother operate a small tricycle fleet. 

        "Only four hours," he says. "Not bad, made one hundred and thirty pesos." 

        "Where's brother Ruel?" 

        "Driving, twelve hours, he'll be back tomorrow." 

        Their tricycles operate 24 hours a day. When Titoy or Ruel aren't driving they hire a driver who pays 75 pesos and keeps the rest of his takings.. 

        I excuse myself and head for the comfort room (toilet). One of the kids lends me her slippers and I flip flop to a small room off the kitchen. It has a wet concrete floor, a bowl with no cistern or seat, and a couple of buckets in the corner by a tap.  

        Back in the lounge room I notice some village kids watching TV through the window. They wave. "Those kids have no TV, no electric," Titoy says. "Very poor." 

        Midi comes down and takes over the Pig-wig watch. "Say something to Uncle Allan," she says to the youngest daughter. The daughter giggles and hides her face. More prompting. She holds up a drawing of some trees that seem to be bent over at right angles. "The wind is faster to running," she says between giggles. The kids laugh and clap. More English practice and laughter, and then it's time to go. 

        Some of the kids escort me to the road and flag down a tricycle. They are still waving when the tricycle turns the corner. The tricycle bumps its way back to the Manhattan Inn. I wonder - what have I just seen? 
 

Allan Miller,  December 2008

  Copyright © 1994 Allan Miller

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