The same words every day, in broken English and a wide, toothless smile. He wore a dirty shirt, too big for his skinny body, and a ripped pair of pants. His eyes were dark, black. It was difficult to guess what they had seen and what they were hiding. Always there, with his outstretched hand and a big smile, -What will you give me today...?
He wasn't over ten years old. Dirty hair and chewed down fingernails. But his toothless smile was always wide. When he was not asking for food he used to sit by the side of the street between the two large elm trees. He had built his own tiny house. Two cardboard boxes and two green crates blocked the way to the uninvited guests. That was his kingdom and he was the king. He kept his treasure there too, a tattered school bag that he always carried with him. He held it tight in one hand whenever he ventured outside his "house".
Ahmed, who had the small shop across the street brought him goodies every day. Before giving them to him he used to tell him:"Give me your bag and tell me what you keep inside". The boy would become stubborn and pin his gaze to the ground. He would not smile anymore. Ahmed found the kid's anger funny, he'd stuff the kid's hands with chocolates, milk, and fruit and walk away. The boy would go back "home". He'd sit under the large elm, neatly arrange his ripped bag by his side, and happily start chewing at whatever the good-natured shopkeeper had given him.