I’m Cool Here (Goodbye Paimo)

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

This poem “The Pool Players” by Gwendolyn Brooks came to mind when I heard about the passing away of one of the street children that we advocated.

“Paimo”, that’s how we used to call him. He was only 14 years old. He died of drug overdose last night.

I still remember very clearly the days when he stayed in our shelter home for the street children. He was a quiet, but stubborn kind of a boy. He was intelligent though, proved by the marks he got at school, before he dropped out following his parents’ divorce.

He was also keen of soccer, a game which he played quite well. He could sing too. When we first met him, we agreed that the very first thing we must do is find a way to get him back to school. But as we interacted more with him, we found that going to school was actually the very last thing he would want to do.

“I’m cool here. The street is my home.” He enjoyed his time on the streets. Sang and begged for money, then spent the money on addictive substances and drugs. Many times we tried talking to him about it, but he never seemed to care. When we tried harder, it only resulted in him leaving the shelter.

I was relieved when I heard that he went to Kalimantan to join his mother who transmigrated there. But I wasn’t too surprised when a month after that, I found him back on the streets of Jogjakarta again. He had run away from his family yet again.

He came to our regular meetings with the street children groups every week, and sometimes played soccer with us. But still, going to school and returning home, was the last thing on his mind.

“I’m cool here”, I could still hear his declaration, as today I came to see him for the last time at the morgue. And I have run out of words to say. Good bye Paimo.

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