Unedited excerpt of my memoir – ©2019 Sylvaine Francine
On the sidewalk, a busy shopkeeper sells plates of food. Bhel is my favorite crunchy spicy foodstuff: dry noodles on a bed of vegetables, topped by some flat crackers which can be used as silverware. It makes dinner easy and… tasty. I ask for some tea. The hot beverage will hopefully boil away any kind of bacteria or virus.
A beggar approaches, one arm extended, hand opened. He brings his other hand to his mouth, all fingers joined together, indicates that his is hungry. He mumbles a few words, proceeds from one shopkeeper to the next. They tell him to move on and away. He walks with heaviness and pulls from inside himself, the strength to keep moving forward. With the hot tea, in my hand already, I can’t reach and open my purse and wallet, without taking the risk of pouring hot tea on someone. The beggar approaches now. His clothes, as dirty as the ground we are standing on, his eyes ask for a bit of compassion. The woman next to me orders a plate for him. She pays full price for a plate that the shopkeeper does not quite fill up. Gratefully, the beggar clasps his hands together over his heart and thanks her. He opens them flat before him and then sends her blessings in a language I still don’t know.
Every day, in this country, I learn from kind-hearted people that poverty and hunger is everyone’s responsibility. Kind people such as this woman attests that the community cares about the poor. Not everyone turns their head the other way. Humanity is alive.
Photo: Adiyogi from Morguefile.com