In Cathleen With's "Guthrip" a man visiting India is similarly heartbroken by an 8 year old street boy who asks to polish his shoes. As he buys the boy a chai tea, he contemplates, knowing how absurd it is, adopting the boy and taking him away from his misery. The more the boy chats, the more horrible his situation is revealed. What's sadder, and ultimately more depressing for the man, is that the boy doesn't even realize how bad it is. The sickening question that lingers when the story is all done is what good would it do for the boy to see how truly poor off he is? If the man can't help, if the situation is truly futile, is it better for the boy to be living in ignorance?
"Guthrip" is a short piece, but emotionally gut-wrenching.
(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)