Selling Price of Cities of Terrors

One of my short stories inspired by true stories compiled by Laurel Holliday on the book “Children of Israel, Children of Palestine.” Koleksi cerpen saya yang Diinspirasi dari kumpulan kisah nyata Children of Israel , Children of Palestine yang dirangkum oleh Laurel Holliday. I have read the book a year ago, yet I have not had time to write a review. I hope I will be able to do so later. The book is a book anyone on this planet should read.

Note : The story below might contain mistakes in political information, therefore I apologize. This story is a part of my own collection. It is shared for the peace on the only planet with human beings ( as far as I know) any critics are cordially welcomed. Thank you all so much!

Selling Price of Cities of Terrors

Lulu A 2007

It was late when I went home from work. Along the street I usually pass by, was quiet already. I only saw some cars passing by, some people who bring home the bacons by selling food on their wheelbarrows and some homeless kids who were starting to lay over their shabby card boxes over the floor of one of the biggest malls in the city. The card boxes they use for their sleeping beds in this cold weather of December. While the kids were preparing the so-called “nice bed”, their mothers were nuzzling their babies. What strong babies! They even have to grow up in the streets. I wonder where their fathers are, perhaps they do some jobs, which I have no idea what, to add the family income. My curiosity arises sometimes. Three little kids approached me when I passed by their sleeping area; begging me for some coins or food to eat. One of them with reddish hair because of being exposed too long under the sun during the day, tried to stop me by singing a song which sounds familiar to me. I thought I was nothing compared to them! They even still worked when their mothers slept already with the babies in their arms. I didn’t see the boredom on their faces, only the cheerful faces. To me they were like saying “ Oh happy night! wow I will get some coins from her, and tomorrow, I will buy yummy fried chicken with the coins I manage to collect. If she gives me, then I will get 10.000 rupiahs already, and that’s enough to buy the fried chicken which poster I saw on the display of the KFC stand behind the mall.” I grabbed my pocket while they were following me, hopping and singing. I felt some coins in my pocket, yet I decided not to give them any. It has always been my idea not to give younger beggars money as I don’t want to see them growing old by only asking money from people on the street. Once I saw on TV of happy they are being beggars, but how sad I am knowing the fact. I hailed a taxi that happened to pass by. Inside the taxi, I saw from the window the three children who were begging me for coins trying to sleep beside their mothers. The rain had finally fallen that night.

I can’t hate this job, I shouldn’t. This job has somehow changed my life, even I have to be home late at night or in certain period of times, I do not even go home at all; forcing myself typing the articles, which are close to the deadline. The job of which my parents disagree, yet I enjoy it very much as much as I enjoy my chocolate ice cream served with raisins and wafer during dry season. Once I was asked by a good friend of mine about why I could fall in love with this job. The only answer I could give then, was because I wanted my life changed. Then, he, my good friend, started to argue on how this job could possibly change my life if I often have to stay up late; typing and the next day flying to some dangerous places and starting to observe something in order to get the next printed news, which is hoped to have selling price. I smiled in response to his argument. Being a journalist means you are ready for the journey to any places where there are good news to sell and that if your stories are sold, it is the money you will get. Being a journalist means you have to have high piles of questions to ask to people to support your writing, therefore your writing will be valid.

A white paper was lying on my table as I entered my office. It was a note. I took it with my left hand while my right one held a glass of coffee. It was cold that day and the coffee I was sipping at least warm my body.

Dear Ms. Raya Shelby,

Having examined your reputations for the past two years, we gladly inform you about our sending you to two countries which are in dispute; Palestine and Israel. You will be departing there December 27th. All the things related to your leaving will be informed as soon as you contact us. Please, contact us as soon as possible


Vince M

I was not surprised, yet all of a sudden I was thinking of my family. I knew that my family was not going to agree, let alone permit me to go. This is my life, I shall go with or without their permissions. Am I a bad person? a bad daughter? I keep on asking that all the time.

Time went on until the day arrived…..

I was now in a border; trying to gather news as much as possible, later I would make them into great stories. I could sense the tense in both countries, I could sense the hot air blowing in both countries. Accompanied by my camera, I was taking some scene; sometimes my humanity was touched by the situations in both countries. I drank my bottle of mineral water as it was absolutely hot. A ruined of houses were seen along the streets of Palestine, yet I saw some children and some teenagers sitting on the ruin. Accompanied by my translator, I approached them and began to do my job “Are they your siblings?”, I asked while my translator was translating it into the language they understood. “No, they are my friends.”

“Do you like to play here?”, “ Where else could we play?”. I only smiled a little when my translator translated this. All of sudden, a boy of 15 year old said something “This is the life we should endure, we can’t be sad nor happy. We live for today and we do not know what will bring us tomorrow. We hope the peace will come, if it’s not for us then it will be for our next generation” I was surprised, a 15 year old boy could even state his deepest thought, the thought that was supposed to be said by people older than he was. “Do you hate them?”, I asked “We don’t hate anyone.”, “Do you have a brother?”, “Yes, I do. And he wants to be a doctor someday and I want to be a teacher, but now getting a higher education is a bit difficult.” I numbed suddenly, how high their spirits were. Later that day, December 27th evening, a crowd of people gathered together. My journalistic spirit arouse. “What happened?” “Our young boy died of a grenade a few hours ago.” The boy was at the same age as the boy I saw in my hometown, the boy who begged me for some coins. I cursed those who invented grenade!

Time went on and I was in Israel now, …

The same situation I felt when I stepped on feet on this land; hot and tense. Again with my translator, I walked through the street of Israel, yet I saw some children and teenagers sitting on a barren land. I started my job again “ Your class was just over?”, “Yes, but we are in grief.” , “ Why?” I asked. “Another friend of us died of massive bombings today.”, “I am sorry.”, “ Who else for the next day? maybe I will?” said a teenager among them. “The thing is that no one thinks of the next generation’s future.” I was listening to their conversation and nodded once in a while. “Do you hate those people?”, “yes and no. If hatred lies on our hearts, then there will be more victims.”. I saw a 14 year old girl reading a newspaper with political headlines. A 14 year old girl was interested in politics in this conflict area. “What are you reading?” I started the small talk, “About the bombings.”, she kept on reading. “Why don’t you read something else?”, “What else could we read? Here even 7 year old boy could feel interested in politics.”

That day was December 30th, I was sleeping in a tent of the Red Cross organization. I was wondering how the children I met the previous day. I would be back to my homeland tomorrow morning. That night, I was working on my laptop; typing the article for the next headline. I didn’t remember what time I slept, I guess I fell asleep. The next morning when I prepared my belongings, I read a local newspaper “Another Bombing”. I put the newspaper down and went back home.

Finally, on the first day of January, I arrived in my hometown. My article “Children in the Cities of Terrors” had become a headline. I got paid for what I did. Then I started to think “I was cruel. I used the children in the cities of terrors to be my headline. I was cruel, making much money by exploiting their stories.” Another voice echoed “No, you are not cruel. It’s what you do. Who else would tell people about the conditions?” later that night, as always I passed by the street where I met the boys begging me for some coins. I met the boys again, and they kept on following me again begging me for some coins again. I remember the faces of the children I saw in the countries of Palestine and Israel. The boys who were begging me for coins looked happy, while the children in both countries did not. At least the beggar boys knew what they would do the next day, while the children of both countries didn’t. I decided to ask the beggar boys “ What do you want to be?”, “hmm… hmmm”, they didn’t answer. That’s the different; children here don’t seem to have some spirit to be someone, or perhaps they want to just go on living, but they don’t tell me as they are still kids, but children there, in the countries which had given me money indirectly, have higher spirits to be someone, they even think differently than most children at their ages do. Another thing I can never forget , once they told me that they will bring one mission “Peace”. I walked home and decided not to give them coins. Do you remember why I wanted to be a journalist? yes I wanted my life change, but how? It is not only the money I get from what I write , yet the sense of humanity and peace I feel which is stronger and stronger. Those children, here and there, have taught me of how lucky I am sitting here being served by the great technology and the next morning I might be served bu ice cream and coffee as much as I want. I think I am weaker than they are.

With Peace


4 responses to “Selling Price of Cities of Terrors

    • Thank you for reading JP, I needed some input:-)
      I think I have to start writing the next short stories.

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