Esperanza Street by Niyati Keni

Esperanza Street

Niyati Keni

You will visualise this street - the human stories within its buildings coming together to form a multi-faceted personality, so that the threats to its way of life will bounce you from one emotional extreme to another. For Joseph life is hard enough, but 'hard' is normal for a traditional small community in the Philippines. What will make it even harder, are the hard-fisted hard men who are used to getting their own way and are set on change.

The apartment blocks here were at least four storeys tall with jutting balconies overlooking the street. In soft globes of lamplight, people ate together, talked over the sound of TV sets, rolled out bedding. It was a street where neighbours hung over railings and called to each other in the darkness, the red tips of cigarettes looping through the air as they talked. I tried to imagine what it might feel like to once again belong somewhere like this, perhaps even with someone, by choice rather than happenstance. But I couldn't quite capture the sense of it, as if there had grown over the years some barrier as light as gauze, floating between me and everyone else.
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