Deprivation and Desperation

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By-Gelila Samuel

So… the other day, a dirty beggar went inside the restaurant I was saying in. My first thought was where is the security, guard? I guess no one saw him or he must come here usually. And then I stiffened as he approached me. I hesitated.  I didn’t know what exactly to do. He was observing and analyzing me in a look at that says I’m a potential threat. He looked around the other customers and he took the book I was reading, that’s it! I got up from my chair to call out the security guard; I sat down back immediately as I heard him spoke. He read the title. His proficiency in English was better than most. He caught me off guard. His diction reminded me of graduates from a good school. He sat down and started walking me through his thoughts about the book. I couldn’t help but admire how cordial and well mannered he was. Unfortunately, our conversation had to cease as the restaurant manager came over with the security guard and escorted him diplomatically out of the restaurant. My friend arrived right after and so the food. By then everything that just happened within that 30 minutes sank down. That boy managed to make feel disgusted with my first thoughts of him and question myself; despite all my talk about hypocrisy and compassion- I was faced with this ultimate reality, and I somehow reacted with revulsion. Suddenly the delicious food in front of me tasted tasteless and heavy.

Life, is more or less portrayed as journey driven by dreams on the road, the highways, the hectic cities. That romanticized feel as the car races, eyes on the future, mind on the wheel, heart flying ahead for the loved ones. In contrary to this scenario, we often overlook life on the pedestrian side: kids without families strolling through horrible eventful days and nights, weary moms under the bridge breast feeding their offspring with empty stomach, a young man gasping that plastic bottle filled yellowish sticky glue.

And we see them: almost every day, we pass by a lot of children, families sleeping out on the street, living in the filthy dumps in the dark side of the city, huddling on under bridges or whatever shelter they can find. Some, with the decency of cartoon as a mattress and rugged blanket; others, inhaling glue that turned into a saving grace of numbness from the cold frost of nature as well as the cold terror.       

Aside from being broken: broken from their childhood expectations, disowned from their teenage aspiration, dragged down from their adult rumination, they are exposed to stronger storms which defies my imagination. Their life’s worries summarized and simplified into mere existence and survival.

The worst part is every day we are turning blind to these scenes that are increasing on an alarming rate. Some of us give out those cents or any bill that’s in our pockets, some of us we pass by giving them unfortunate looks, and some of us choose to simply ignore. They are wrong, we assure ourselves. We are in the right of things. How often have we criticized their behavior? How often have we judged them of of their appearance? Sure, we hear them mouth off unimaginable vulgarities on the street. Sure, some of them are criminal and a few are certified ass holes. But then again what could the street teach them? Who can blame them? The streets have redefined the norm we all know.

Blame my propensity and fervor of interpellation but, how do you throw away a broken heart? Tell me how do you throw away a broken memory? A broken generation? What of them, who are the broken. Should they be discarded from this country? Discarded by the society as defects?

But not all broken have lost their meaning.    

Life is complex but not complicated. No matter where we all came from, no matter how diverse is our background or our troubles, “What does it take from Me, You, Us?”  Is all that matters to stop the scattering of generation that’s slipping undeniably from our hands. By putting our ready hands together, we can all see that we are all holding a candle that can illuminate their lives. And show them that they are no longer hostages of the night but the rebel for the light.