I sat there in the traffic watching the red numbers on the traffic lights count down.
The latest song hummed in a slow buzz, while I drummed my fingers lazily on the steering wheel. And bored as I was, I checked my phone:
B: On the way. will reach dominos in 10 mins.
C: Me too!
Me: stuck in traffic… 😦 will be late guys
After sending that text, I casually flung my phone on the passenger’s seat and glanced up.
A man came up to my car. A beggar. Around 60 years old.
His black and (mostly) white hair was in clumps. It was clear he hadn’t washed it in days. He had stubbly beard that had grown out. His last shave must have been three or four days ago. His frame was not-too-haggard; it seemed like he was in good health, but right now he was ravenous. That much was apparent.
The checked shirt and the lungi he wore fit him perfectly. I could see that they weren’t hand-me-downs. So, this man was wearing clothes he owned, was healthy in general, but somehow, right now he couldn’t afford a meal.
I wondered what poor fate had befallen him.
Surely, he can’t have been in this dilapidated state for long.
I got the strong feeling of a middle-class businessman who had a family back home. A family he could no longer go back to, because he wasn’t welcome.
My guts told me that this was a man who had been shunned from his own house.
He reminded me of my dad. My late dad.
Of course, all this was in my head. MY JUDGMENTS.
I opened my window slightly, and looked at him closely. His eyes — oh god the eyes — were shouting out for help.
I asked him, “Are you hungry?”
“Do you want to have pizza?”
He nodded hopefully.
I once again picked up my phone to send one instant message:
Me: U guys carry on. Can’t make it today.
It wasn’t too late to change things between me and my dad.
The ending is open to interpretation. Maybe the driver connected with the beggar and found a father figure in him. Or maybe she sought redemption for doing all the mean things she did to her own father. Or simply, an act of kindness.
This piece is a work of fiction based off my daily experience. I never talk to people on the streets. I admit, I’m scared. I’m terrified of the creeps who come in all shapes and sizes.
But that never stopped me from wondering what would happen if I decided to take them out to eat and had a heart-to-heart conversation with them.
lungi — a one-piece loose garment, tied around a man’s waist.