I Wondered What Was On His Mind …

The Man In the Sidewalk

I sat inside the car, waiting for my hubby, when I suddenly saw this man. He was sitting on the sidewalk begging for alms. I could see from where I was sitting that both his legs were not normal – polio perhaps, or some other disease which caused his disability. He was holding in his hands a disposable cup, and every time a person or a group of people would pass by, he would offer a smile. He never, even once, raised his cup. He never uttered a word. He just sat there, tried his best to establish eye contact, and smiled.

Oblivious of the forthcoming lesson I am to learn by just observing, I watched and watched.

1 … 2 … 3… 10 … 22 … 34 … a single person; a couple; a group of students; workers on their way to work; women carrying bags from the market … not one person gave him anything. Every smile he gave was not even reciprocated.

I felt a lump in my throat …

I want to describe his response every time someone ignores his smile , but I am at a loss for the right English words to use, so I’m going describe it using my local dialect : “gakahilaw siya …” . 

Those moments, in my count 34 times, that he was ignored, I wondered what was going through his mind? I wondered if he had a family … Was he a father? A Husband? Does he have a wife and children to feed?

How about those people who passed by him? Could it be that they really did not see him? Or maybe they did see him but they chose not to give. Or maybe they had nothing to give. Or maybe they don’t want to give to beggars in general. Or maybe … could it be that the people, all 34 of them the whole time I watched, were so busy or so preoccupied in their minds that literally did not see him?

I saw …

So when my hubby came back, I told him what I observed …  and then I asked him if he could give the man some money … ( I was still in my PJ’s … naghatod lang mi sa among 2 daughters – one to work and the other one to schooll)

I watched some more. I was sure he would not see me behind the tinted car windows. As soon as my husband dropped some money in his cup, he looked up and smiled.

I felt warm all over …

And I felt the lump in my throat again …





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