Last week I met a man, homeless, I met him for the first time almost two years ago.
I recognized him, so I wanted to say hello. Well, he was in a bad mood, he told me. Then apologized for been rude with me. The conversation was as follows:
Me: Hi! How are you? I am glad to see you.
He: Really? You are glad to see me? A miserable man, cold in the street in a dark wet night?
Me: (sighted and got down to be able to have same eyes level). No, I am not happy to see you in this unchanged condition, but as a person, I am glad to see that you exist in the world.
Can I seat down beside you? - I asked, and he agreed.
I needed to seat down too because I was tired. It reminded me when I was younger, I would seat in some stairs no problem and it felt just familiar and comfortable to be there with him. Then our conversation continued:
He: I am sorry to be nasty with you but is just I am in very bad mood. I should be thankful. One should be always thankful.
Me: No worries, when you put it like that, of course I am not happy to see you. And listen, you can be grumpy or sad, or in a bad mood. It is just human you know? Is it there something concrete I could do to change your situation?
He: I don’t know! Call Marta-Louise (the Norwegian princess), maybe she can do something for me! – he said, with some bitter sense of humor but I did not laugh. He was releasing steam I supposed.
He resisted for a while and tried to through my attention to some other topic like, “are you not cold sitting in the floor?” or, “you were left behind, your group is gone, don’t you mind being left behind?” and he showed genuine kindness towards me.
But then we went deeper, and after some complaints about not having a doctor or not been in the system, he finally said he had a brother. With such pain, his voice changed, his eyes went wet and red his posture went from normal, to the one of a small kid who is lost in the big city and sat down to cry in despair.
He is a very good-looking man I must say, his teeth white and his eyes deep blue. Nordic blond sort to say, tall and again so kind with a beautiful smile. And suddenly to see that big man became a small child saying:
“my brother wouldn’t want to know about me. He has read so many bad things about me in the papers. I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t want to do what I did. I didn’t want to, you know? Then crying again. I don’t want to live in the streets, it is cold, he sentenced”
Then I said, and this was when? That things you did. Was that very long ago? Maybe if you call your brother, he might be waiting to hear from you. I can see you have regretted whatever it was, and your smile tells me there is loads of good in you.
Maybe, if you try, or let me try for you. Maybe he is waiting for your call.
This was the last dialog, after this he started turning off. I asked him if he wanted more of my company, but he reminded silent, so I understood was my time to go.
Before we chatted a little bit and I showed him pictures from my birth city and he just said “Oh, a paradise!” and we both were there, longing for a minute to be there in the tropic in that paradise of my hometown. And we smiled at each other. Even laughed a bit louder, fantasizing and me telling everything about it and showing him pictures. Is it warm there? Was the only thing that preoccupied him!
I left him, because he wanted to be left alone.
From the first time I met him, he had grown a humpback and looked quiet in mental distress. I remember that cold night in December 2016, he was sitting by some door close to the central station, and he received the soup and the bread. He had his hands on his pockets and he told me to wait. I thought he was going to give me something, and yes, he did. He offered me the most valuable thing, the dignity of his hand shake.
And that is why I remember him. That first handshake. I do not know who he was, or what he did but I know him now in his misery been a gentle man, despite his situation.
A good man who is suffering, trapped on the spiderweb of his past, though the most likely is, that the threatening spider once attacked his life is now froze and is long dead.
But he is alone in that big room of the homeless. Because to be homeless implies much more than to live in the streets without a roof.