Saturday, March 28, 2009


Being the person that I am, there is nothing more I would love to do than wallow in self pity. But I can’t anymore. Each time I begin to feel sorry for myself, an image pops up in my head. An image of a young boy I had seen a few years ago. I was still a teenager then. It was a cool evening. The sun had just set and the whole world around me was bathed in a pink glow. I was at the window, letting the cool breeze caress my face, my eyes gazing at nothing in particular until it fell upon this boy. There was nothing special about this boy. My eyes had found him because he was the only moving object on that empty street. He was on an old, rusty bicycle. His skin was dark as the night, but there were gray smudges on it indicating cement. His hair was brown and dry as a coconut husk. The muddy, brown shirt and khaki shorts he wore had holes in them. These were the things I saw at a glance, and my brain subconsciously registered it and made its conclusion - he was a labourer at a construction site. There was a huge steel container tied to the carrier on the bicycle. It was the kind of container that labourers usually carry their food in. The boy was cycling back to the construction site to bring food to the labourers working there. One of the old ladies, who was no longer fit to be a labourer, must have cooked it and him being so young must have been sent to get it. The boy looked tired as he cycled along the empty street. Out of nowhere, a dog appeared and ran across the street. The boy was startled by this. He lost his balance and came crashing down on the road, bicycle and all. There was a huge clang as metal met the tar road. My eyes were no longer following the boy absent-mindedly. They were now focused on the heap of human and metal on the road. They soon found the huge container. The huge clang had come from the container hitting the road. The lid flew away and rolled on the street like a runaway wheel until it came to rest with a noisy clatter. All the rice that was previously in the container was now all over the street. My eyes shifted to the boy’s face. There was an expression on his face that I can only try to describe. It was a mixture of agony, grief, anger and fear. He looked at the rice on the street with this strange expression on his face. This was his dinner; the dinner he had waited all day for, the dinner he had worked all day for; the dinner that all the labourers had worked for and were now waiting . The look on the boy’s face tore at my heart. Suddenly he looked so small and frail. My eyes began to well up and there was a lump in my throat. I wanted to run outside and hold this child to my heart and protect him from the harshness of the world he lived in. But I didn’t. I stood rooted to the spot as he silently salvaged all the rice he could, tie his container back to the carrier and then pedal away, watching him grow smaller and smaller and until he disappeared. But the image of him, lying there, looking at the spilt rice, never left me. That image is a reminder of how sometimes I can take life for granted. It is a reminder of how bad things could really get; how lucky I am to be me, to live the life that I live. Now every time I have one of those days, I think about this nameless boy, say a prayer for him and look at life in a positive light.