Magazine article New Internationalist

The Have Nots: Windows 10

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Have Nots: Windows 10

Article excerpt

[Graph Not Transcribed]

[Graph Not Transcribed]


The public hospital in the fanciest neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro received a thousand patients every day. Nearly all were poor or very poor.

In the fall of 1993 a doctor on call remembered: 'Last week, I had to choose between two newborns. We only have one incubator. The babies were born at the same time, each with one foot in the grave, and I had to choose which would live and which would die.'

By saving one, he'd kill the other. By killing one, he'd save the other.

This isn't up to me, the doctor thought, let God decide. But God paid no heed. The newborns were slipping away, and it was the doctor who had to pick the one who would benefit from the lone machine on hand. He had no time to stop and think. Whatever he did, he was going to commit a crime. If he did nothing, he'd commit two.

The doctor closed his eyes and chose: one baby was condemned to die, the other was condemned to live.

The Birthday

Face of a smiling ant, butt of a frog, legs of a chicken: Sally had her first birthday.

The event was celebrated in a big way. Across the floor her mother, Beatriz Monegal, spread an enormous tablecloth embroidered with flowers, whose origin couldn't be divulged, and lit the little candle on the crown of the cake she would never pay for at The Sandwich Emporium.

In one amen the cake was gone and the party began. The many guests drank and danced and enjoyed themselves, while the honoree slept deeply, wrapped in clean starched clothes in a shopping basket.

At a quarter to three in the morning, when not a drop was left in the jugs of wine, Beatriz snapped her last photographs, turned off the radio, shooed everyone out and hurriedly picked up her belongings.

At three on the dot, a police siren wailed. Beatriz had moved into that big house a couple of months previous, along with her many children and her most recent love, who was muscular and good at kicking doors open. When the police arrived to serve the eviction notice, Beatriz had already set off on her new pilgrimage.

She was headed down the middle of the street with her man and her older children, hauling the poles of a cart filled with little children and rags, looking for another house to invade, and laughing a laugh that cracked the silence of the Montevideo night.


Tertuliana Queiroz stays, prays and obeys somewhere in Ceara. Waiting, she sleeps. Waiting, she wakes. She waits, her children wait. In better times, she talked a blue streak. But now she stutters. Fifteen children. Seven left, she says. No, she says, six. The others are dead, died or killed. …

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