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Saturday, 29 March 2008

a man who does not belong

There was this homeless man near Klinik Kesihatan DBKL on the street along where i walk to my office everyday. And every time on my way to work and back, i would see him on the dirty pavement, sometimes lying down, at times sitting up.

His clothes were a very darkish brown-black, most probably due to months or years of sleeping on the streets. He had this fuzzy greying hair, sort of the one you see on Einstein. Must have looked years since he had a nice hot bath, or even just a minute of shower. His slippers were one of those white coloured with blue strap you see in pasar malam, obviously worn and close to retirement. Though most of the times i saw him, he weren't wearing them. Uncomfortable, or just trying to make them last longer, i could not have guessed.

Along with the shirt on his back, he also brings along a plastic bag, the contents of which my curiosity hadn't spurred me to peep at (homeless as he may be, he deserves respect and privacy, not a curiosity on the street for strangers to scrutinise). He had a little notebook too, and he can be seen writing on it sometimes with a black marker pen. Once i had a glance while he was writing, and it seems like a few simple chinese characters i learned in kindergarten. 人 人 人 人 ...

Sometimes, i would see him holding onto his left arm. Sometimes he would hit his left arm slightly, slapping it like it wasn't listening to him. There was a suppurated wound on his left elbow, but he didn't seem to be in much pain from it. I thought he had some neurological problem affecting his left arm, but i hadn't notice any twitch or tic so far.

And everyday, people walked past him, oblivious to him, as he is to them. Maybe one or two kind hearts looked at him with sympathy, but most i would dare say look on with just pity in their eyes. Among the passers-by with their busy lives and hectic schedules, the man just sits there, seemingly in his own time and space. This world he lives in, has totally forgotten about him, lost in the currents of time.

What could have driven this man to this sorry state? Behind that dirty, unkempt appearance, there was a story that possibly, no one ever knew, or even remembered.


This day last week, it was raining very heavily. True that it'd been raining everyday since a fortnight before, but this time, the sky's tears did not stop falling even for a minute. I had to stay in the office a little longer to wait for an interval where i could rush to the train station with an umbrella as my shield.

Seeing the rain would not relent, i couldn't give a heck and just walked all the way as quickly as i could. Ended up with my shoes wet, and the bottom half of my jeans drenched.

As i walked past the junction where the homeless man stayed, he was nowhere to be seen.

Unsurprisingly, he must have found shelter somewhere nearby.

But the following days, he was not there around his usual place anymore.

Would anyone had noticed his disappearance? Would anyone had cared?

He was but just a forgotten man, lost in time and space.

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