A House. A Family. A Job.

A House. A Family. A Job.

It was at 2:30 pm on the 26th of Jan 2019 when I noticed this quiet peculiar man sitting next to a restaurant with a black jacket on which looked mucky as if it was ancient and ancestral. I was on my way home after meeting a friend when he caught my eye. I could swear that he was in his early 20s. I don’t know why but something in me made me want to talk to him. So, I skimmed across the signal to the footpath that he was sitting on and tried to catch his attention. I didn’t know how, though. Should I wave my hand? Should I call him? If so, what would I call him? I’ve never seen the guy in my life, let alone know his name.

“Hi!”, I said to him in a hesitant tone. He was jaded and distraught, but he still managed a bare smile. He looked like a fine young man albeit in tattered rags and a crumpled water bottle next to him.

“Are you homeless?” I asked him although I knew the answer.
“Yes, Sir! Otherwise, I wouldn’t be sitting here on a blazing afternoon staring at the same blue sky and breathing in all the woeful things that come along the breeze now, would I? “

I could only imagine how hard that must’ve been, sitting there all day literally doing nothing and having no power to do something about it.

“What’s your story? “, I finally asked him.
“It’s a long one “.
“Go on, I’ve got time “, I insisted.
“I’ve been homeless for the last three weeks now. I’ve been going to housing options every day and all I ever hear is “Come back tomorrow”. And, I’ve been sleeping on the road every day “.

He kept a straight face while telling me this. He was down, but his spirit wasn’t. He looked proper. I could sense that he was a good lad.

“What happened?”, I decided that I wanted to hear out his story entirely.
“Well, my dad was acholic and we fell out. So, I left home and have been homeless since”.
“And, Mother?” I wanted to ask him, but I didn’t want to push him. If he wanted to, he’d have told me.

“It is not safe here on the outside. Why don’t you go back? Alcoholic or not, he’s still your father, isn’t he?”, I was surprised that he had left home because of this.
“You don’t know my father”, he chuckled, but I could see the sarcasm and the pain behind it.

“I feel safer here than with him”, there was no hidden humour when he said this.
I didn’t know how to respond to that… I conjured a half smile and moved on to my next question. The more I heard his story, the more questions I had.

“So how are you surviving here?”

“I beg. I beg for food, I beg for cover, I must beg for sleep as well. For people on the road, sleep doesn’t come easy. You never know when you might get stabbed, stamped or spit on. This is no life, this is no way to live”.
“People passing by call me a junkie, a drinker and whatever comes to their mind. Many of them spit on me at late nights. They tell me to get a job, do this, do that, get off your ass… But how? I have no one, no help whatsoever. Who would give a job to someone like me? You don’t know how judgemental people are until you have nothing. I’m just the same as everybody else. I’m a human being, a human being trying to get by”, he snapped and broke down after that last sentence.

I didn’t know how to console him as I had never been in a situation as heart-breaking as this one. I couldn’t even muster a word. I continued listening to him.

“People think the food is the only thing we want..”, he wiped away his tears and calmed himself just enough to talk. “It is not. I want a toothbrush, a towel or a soap even. It is really getting to the point where I ask myself “Do I really want to live or just die?”

“You can’t give up. Don’t give up… You will pull through”, I tried to lift him up.

“Thank you”, he said. “Thank you for even stopping by and talking to me. You know what’s the hardest thing about being homeless?”, he looked at me as if I had the answer and I wish I had, but instead, I nodded a big NO.

“Being invisible”.

I was perplexed and looked at him bemused

“People just walk past me and don’t even acknowledge me. Those eyes don’t even turn towards where I’m sitting. I’m just the same as everybody else, a little smelly and dirty but still a human. Not everybody takes drugs, not everybody drinks; I don’t even like the smell of the drinks”.

“If you had three wishes, what would they be?”, I shot my final question at him.

“A house. A job. A family”.

I was heartbroken when he said that. I thanked him for sharing his story and being honest about it, handed him a bit of money and made my way back home. On the way back, his thought never left me. If only the world had been a better place. How many like him are suffering day in day out. Stories unheard, faces unacknowledged, voices unable to get the message across, hearts deserted and bodies gripped by torment and fear.  His three wishes are the ones we take for granted and yet never be grateful for it. This warm conversation with him changed my perspective towards the homeless and the way I looked at things on a gigantic scale. There are people dying on the streets to have an ounce of what we have. Yet, we never realize the sheer importance and the magnitude of what we have at our helm. At least from now on, let us value and cherish the things and people around us who bring colour and patterns to our life. Let us be more apologetic, accepting and less judgemental.

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Been there, Seen enough

Been there, Seen enough

Nothing excites me anymore. When I say nothing, NOTHING. Literally no-one-thing. Gone are the days when I used to sit cosy in my favourite spot watching TV shows or anime with glittery eyes, excitement thumping in the heart, munching on the Snickers bar, postulating what I would’ve done in those stifling situations with curiosity sky high. Even more, I would imagine myself saving the world or the world of someone giving me innumerable joy and fulfilment. I couldn’t take my eyes off it once I got hooked to an anime. Headphones on, volume tweaked to the maximum, I was immersed.

I don’t understand what it is and I can’t seem to explain it either, but, now I don’t feel like watching it at all. I remember not being able to contain the overwhelming urge while letting out a silent shriek whenever I found out about a new anime to watch. It has all changed now. I no longer feel the pulsating and nerve-wrecking emotion anymore. Regardless, there are moments which holds these tiny little moments of our lives that we spend with utmost joy, appalling sadness or just a bit of both. This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the life that I’m living right now. I do. Couldn’t have wished for it to be in any other way. Don’t have regrets either. I never have. It is absolutely perfect and might that be the problem, I wonder? Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fortunate enough to get what I wanted. Every time. Call it coincidence, blessing or whatever you want, but the things I desire always find me in one way or the other like a magnet attracting a metal. I’ve even pondered on the possibility of someone conjuring up a spell and getting me things I wanted.

“What if the most valuable thing in your eyes fails to find you for the first time? How would you react to the disappointment?” Mom has asked me numerous times.

“I’ll accept it as it comes”, I’ve reassured her each time.

There are days where I just observe the way our world flows and feel awestruck at the way the world is heading towards; unwaveringly prudent and materialistic. Same old nonchalant laughter, soul-less greetings and half-hearted conversations. No way am I insinuating everything is dim-lit and half baked, not being rude either. There are a few bright sparks here and there. But, I don’t find it surprising anymore.

I think of a story cooked up by myself when the grandeur of time comes swooping in a conversation with people. I dawn upon this story when I’m feeling a little down or have millennials of time left to spare.

“The past is a coal mine with the way you came in closed off with gigantic boulders. You can peek in through the holes and see the path you walked through, but you can’t go back. The future is mysterious and as dark as the coal itself. No matter what you do, you can’t see the path you’re about to tread or know what’s waiting for you. The present is the only timeline under your belt with the lantern by your side. You can only illuminate the mine by moving forward; unfurling all the unanswered questions. The pile of boulders roll closer and blocks away the place where you stood a second back reminding you that you can’t go back. So, just tread along, my friend. Connect with your soul, reach for the skies. Cross oceans expanding across continents, drink from the highest mountains and valleys, you’re destined for greatness”.

 

The Other Gender

The Other Gender

Notice that I’ve included the word ‘Other’ in the title itself?

That word alone when contextualized and associated with gender

is enough to tweak people’s facial muscles and give out a disapproval

expression of loathe. I can see some of you shaking your head saying

“No, I don’t do that”.

 

tenor

I also know that some of would disagree with me

and pretend that you never felt that way but, darling! Can you give me a

count of all the times you turned your head away as soon as you looked

them in the eye? Can you tell me the number of times you hoped for the

traffic signal to countdown faster than normal just so they wouldn’t come

near you? Can you tell me about the times you’ve shooed them away

without even taking a glance at them? Do you still want to tell me that

you haven’t felt that way and you don’t do that?

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Save your breath, I know what you’re going to say. There’s no shame in admitting it.

I’ve done it too. Tell you what, you might not have done it intentionally,

but your subconscious certainly knew. Hmm…that’s the problem,

isn’t it? Subconscious. Wait, what do you mean you don’t

understand? Alright, let me break it down to you. Your subconscious

knew what to do right away. Why you ask? Well, human subconscious

is driven by dormant feelings and underlying emotions. And, what

fuelled that? Things you see, things you learn, things you observe,

visuals, actions, reports, news, I could go on. What I want you to

understand is, you didn’t choose to notice all of them. You would’ve

ignored some of them too, yet, someone kept track of them all.

Care to guess who? Yes, your subconscious. When I say keeping track of

them all, I don’t mean five or ten years back. Instead, I’m speaking about

the first time you took a breath in this planet till now. You have with you an

accumulation of facts, assumptions, rumours, half-baked truth and possibly

lies garnished to a gargantuan scale. These things enriched with emotions form

your perspective. Life lies right there. It’s all about perspectives in this world, isn’t it?

You find people who share your perspectives; some agree, some disagree while

 the rest agree to disagree proposing opinions based on what they’ve accumulated

 in their life. Enough about how you get your opinion and shape your life.

Now that we know why we’ve acted the way we have, at least from

now on, let’s treat them the way they should be treated.

No, wait! Let’s treat them the way they HAVE to be treated; like us, with us,

among us. The next time you see them, say something. It doesn’t have to be a

long sentence with superlatives. Just a simple “Hello” would suffice. It could seem

minuscule to you, but for them, it would make a world of difference.

 Although there are communities like LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,

Queer) that have been fighting for their rights, until and unless we give

them a chance and pour the same kind of love, we are still far off in coming

together as equals.

The Latched Shadow

The Latched Shadow

“Death is coming,” they said.
“When the time comes, all of us have to depart, and you’ll depart just a little sooner,” they remind me.

My dejected mind nods as it agrees to the inevitable.

I look around trying to escape the ghastly thought for a few seconds, but I can’t. I can feel the cold malicious breath of the grim reaper; It has already arrived.

“Wait, no!” I say, but it has been there all this time, latching itself to me as I came out of the womb. I had ignored it, thinking it was just my shadow, but my gut knew. It was much more than a shadow. It was something dark and malevolent. As I look back, I can see that it was always there – watching me as I looked, following me as I walked. As I grew older, it grew closer.

I glance towards my left side and now I see it clearly. It is standing at the ill-lit corner of the room donning a jet-black clothing, sharpening its already razor-sharp blade. It is holding a time clock and showing me that I have only a minute left to live.

With each tick-tock my heart beat wavers, my body temperature falls and each breath gets shorter.

The moment has arrived; It was time finally.

I still can’t fathom it, you know; the idea of my body ceasing to exist, me having to say good-bye to this majestic world, my loving friends, my humble family, my faithful pets and all the people and things that have crossed my life. As painful as it was, I could only smile.

I smile thinking about the thrill of a roller-coaster I rode when I was a little kid. I smile thinking about how I cringed when I tasted lemon for the first time. I smile thinking about the pesky tantrum I threw when I couldn’t get my favourite toy. I smile thinking about the warmth I felt after I had made my first friend.

“It’s time,” interrupts a deep, bone chilling voice. It was my latched shadow. Hesitantly, I make a request.

“Okay. I’ll make it quick,” the grim reaper promises.

“Wow! Death grants cancer perks too?” I wonder as I breathe my last.