Sidewalk – the business of living

June 30, 2018

The little one would shiver, squirm and let out a short yelp. It seemed as if he was alone. Seeing that he sat on the curb of one of the busiest streets in the city, he cut a curious picture. He seemed well, not as plump as he ought to be at the age of two (what I guessed to be his age) but at least not as scrawny as the usual child on the street looked.

So, who left this child here? I wondered. That is when I saw the singer. With legs that were almost invisible, smoothly folded under him (because they could not perform the function of walking?), his torso directly touched the cement of the sidewalk. He had a beaded instrument and sang lustily. All of him that could be seen was barely two feet above ground. He was singing for his daily bread, tossed to him in the lowest coins by those who walked.

It was only when he sent an irritated look at the whimpering baby that I realized there was a direct relation between the beautiful, hungry little one and this soul who seemed to have taken life’s dishes – as harsh as they seemed – with both hands. He could easily be the father of the child. And the little one was with him as he plied his trade. Family life was going on. I could imagine that the mother may have gone to buy their morning porridge. She walked but chose to spend her life with this man who crawled. At least I hoped so.

I had had such dire thoughts about the long drive I had to go through every morning to work and how ‘unfortunate I was to be living far away from work.’ I was close to tears this particular morning because I hadn’t had enough sleep in my queen-sized bed. …and my bones hurt from stretching to slim my tummy in the gym …

As I looked at my little trembling boy, shivering every time he let out a cry of hunger, and the man who had become small because of the loss of limbs, shame spoke loudly to my vanity.

There is no other response to vanity, when each moment of breath is the beautiful gift called life. I wished I could drop him notes so he could close early today. But my driver stepped hard in my air-conditioned car because the traffic lights changed, pulling me away from even that salve to my now appropriately raging conscience.

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