A really small thing

The boy had one dream and one plan and three days after his twentieth birthday, he decided it was time to act. He said goodbye to his mother. She cried. He said goodbye to his girlfriend. She cried too, although a little less than his mother because she, at least, expected to see him again.

The boy took the one hundred and twenty thousand pesos he had saved, dressed in all his clothes and left on his motorbike. His village was five hundred kilometres from the capital and he guessed the journey would take him two days.

The woman also had one dream and one plan and she had long known that the time had come to act. She spent every day in a room with her computer. The two got along well. Then the woman’s Internet connection failed and deleted an email she had been writing, and the woman threatened to throw her computer against the wall.

The boy arrived in the capital in the afternoon. It was cold and he was glad he had worn all his clothes. It was busier and bigger than he had expected too. The boy counted how much money he had left and then he called his mother. “Are you happy?” she said. “Yes,” the boy replied. “Do you have enough money?” “Yes,” the boy replied.

The woman was angry and frustrated and told her husband what had happened. The husband listened to the woman and then he called the Internet connection company. “If you do not fix the Internet, my wife will make us switch providers,” he said and then he hung up. “They’re coming on Friday,” he said.

The boy passed a park. It had a basketball court, three exercise machines and six large trees and he realised it would be a good place to spend the night. He parked his motorbike, rested his back against a tree and stayed awake until five. Then he drove to the employment office and saw that it didn’t open until nine. The boy lay on the steps outside, and slept.

The woman returned to her room. She re-wrote her email and sent it. Then she wrote a second email but her computer announced that it wouldn’t send that one, nor would it save it, because of the Internet connection. The woman took some plantain chips from her cupboard and heated a bowl of soup. She dipped the chips in the soup and ate them while her husband poured her a glass of wine.

The boy lived in the park for twelve days. Every afternoon he called his mother. “Are you happy?” she said. “Yes,” the boy replied. “Do you have enough money?” “Yes,” the boy replied.

On the thirteenth day, the employment office told the boy he had a job and would begin in two days. The boy was excited but also ashamed. His clothes were dirty. He smelled of sweat and his tongue could no longer keep the dirt from between his teeth. He sat on one of the exercise machines in the park, and cried.

An old woman passed the boy. She was walking her dog. The boy looked at the dog and then he looked at the old woman. The old woman looked surprised.

“I know you!” she said.

“Ma’am?” the boy replied.

“You’re a Sanchez, aren’t you? Yes, you are! I know your mother. I know you! Yes! You’re from…,” and the old woman said the name of the boy’s village.

The boy told the old woman everything that had happened. The old woman told the boy she had a spare room and that the boy could sleep there. The boy feared he would cry again.

“I’m ashamed,” he told the old woman. “I’m dirty.”

“Don’t be,” the old woman said.

The boy told the old woman he had a plan. As soon as he had the money he would send for his girlfriend and they would live together in the capital. As soon as they had more money, they would study English. And when they had even more money than that, they would move to Canada.

The woman had a meeting on Friday morning but she did not sleep properly on Thursday night. She felt anxious when she heard the music she used as an alarm. She showered until her bathroom filled with steam.

On the second day, the boy started his new job. On the third day, another new employee started too. The other new employee was fifty-three. The boy was impressed by this and mentioned it to his new boss. His new boss laughed. “Of course,” she said. “There’s always work for those who want it.”

The boy lived with the old woman for twelve days. On the thirteenth day the old woman told him he would have to leave, because she had a tenant interested in renting her spare room. She arranged for the boy to live with her friend. The boy lived with that old woman for twelve days too, until that old woman also found a tenant for her spare room. The boy received his first wage packet and split it with the two old women.

The boy called his mother. “Are you happy?” she said. “Yes,” the boy replied. “Do you have enough money?” “Yes,” the boy replied.

The woman blow-dried her hair. She straightened it and combed it. Then she dressed and applied make-up and perfume, and packed her handbag. She looked at the clock and swore, because she was late. Then the doorbell rang and the woman swore again, because she had forgotten the appointment with the Internet connection company.

The boy told his boss he would soon be homeless. The boy’s boss called her mother, who offered to rent the boy a room. The boy was grateful to his boss and to her mother but worried because he had no money to pay a deposit. The boy’s boss called her mother again. A deposit wasn’t necessary.

The boy sat down that Friday and did some calculations. In two months he would pay the final instalment on his motorbike. His girlfriend would come from the village and, as soon as she found a job, they would start their English classes. He picked up his toolbox and went to his first call of the day.

The woman told the doorman that it was okay for the Internet connection company’s employee to enter the building and take the elevator to her apartment. She left to go to her meeting and passed a boy in the corridor. The boy was dressed in red overalls. He was smiling.

The woman returned from her meeting. She removed her coat and hung it on the back of a chair. She put her umbrella in the small room that contained the tumble dryer. The woman told her husband that her meeting had gone well and then she remembered the boy from the Internet connection company.

“Did he fix it?” she said.

The woman’s husband told the woman to sit down. He gave her a cup of tea and a chocolate bar and told her everything that the boy had told him.

“Then he fixed it,” the husband said. “He said it was a really small thing.”

Like this? You’ll love Colombia a comedy of errors.

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