I didn’t feel like going out last weekend, but I still needed to eat, so I walked to a nearby mamak joint to get something for lunch. In front of the restaurant, a bunch of kids (primary school age) were loitering around. The tallest (and probably the eldest) among them was heading out of the restaurant. I watched absently as he got onto his bicycle. He put his feet on the pedals, his left hand on the left handle, his right hand... what was that he was fiddling with? Was it what I thought it was? No way, it couldn’t be. As I walked closer towards the restaurant, I took good look at the boy and the mysterious object between his fingers. It became clear to me that it was exactly what I thought it was. The boy, who must be 10 years old at most, was holding a lit cigarette and blowing smokes out of his tiny nostrils!
A million questions instantly popped inside my head. Where did get the cigarette from? Who sold it to him? Did he buy it from the mamak joint? Isn’t it illegal to sell cigarettes to minors? Or did he steal it from his elder family members? Did they notice that he took it? Who are his parents anyway? Do they know about this? Do they even bother?
The kids left and I walked into the restaurant, packed some food and approached the cashier. I noticed another boy in a red t-shirt, probably about 8 years old, kept watching me while I made my payment. I walked out of the restaurant. The boy followed me. I went to a convenience shop nearby. He waited outside. His eyes were on me all the time, like those junior pickpockets that I used to see around Puduraya and Central Market during my student days. As I came out of the shop, he called me.
Boy: Kak, ada seringgit tak?
Me: Nak buat apa?
Boy: Saya nak beli air kat kedai ni.
Me: *Sympathizing* Jomlah, akak belikan.
Boy: Eh, takpe, saya nak beli sendiri.
Me: Laa, apasal pulak? Jom gi pilih. *Turning towards the shop*
Boy: Takpe, saya nak beli sendiri.
Me: *Curious* Awak nak beli air ke nak beli rokok?
Boy: Saya nak beli air.
Me: Nak beli jomlah masuk!
Boy: Saya nak beli sendiri.
Me: *Angry* Dah, taknak sudah!
I left. As I was walking away, I glanced over my shoulder. The boy was still standing in front of the shop. Right ahead, the group of kids that I saw earlier congregated at the nearby parking lot, probably waiting for this boy.
My verdict: He wanted the RM 1 to buy cigarette so he could join his “abang besar” smoking.
What’s your verdict?