Now he had her full attention.
“What do you mean live here? How can you live in a rubbish dump?”
“Well look over there – that shack makes George’s look like sheer luxury.”
At first Teresa couldn’t make out any sort of building at all. But then, amongst a huge pile of rotting food, tree branches, crisp wrappers, broken glass and an assortment of household waste, she began to make out a tiny construction of four tree stumps with a rusty piece of corrugated iron resting on top. That was it – just four poles supporting a makeshift roof. Underneath the roof sat a woman in rags, breastfeeding a tiny baby. The infant’s arms, legs and upper torso looked painfully thin, the skeleton showing through in places. An older child sat next to her, also terribly frail and emaciated, the stomach swollen like a football. The woman didn’t even look up as the bakkie drove past, and with growing horror, Teresa realised that her face, arms and body were covered in flies.
Teresa leant forward, closed her eyes and touched the top of her forehead.
“Oh my God,” she whispered.
They continued on the treacherous dirt track; Digby fighting the steering wheel as he struggled to keep the vehicle in a straight line.
“We are very, very fortunate, Teresa. Do you know that we live just five and a half kilometres from here?”
Both were silent for a while. What else could be said?
Teresa saw many more shacks buried amongst the rubbish. She also saw dozens of the skeletal figures, whose sunken eyes stared blankly into the distance. What did these people think about, she wondered? Did they remember a past or aspire to any sort of future? Or did they simply live in the present; ghostlike figures living from hand to mouth, each day bringing only the challenge of survival.
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