He is always just standing there, looking into the distance. I always wonder what he is thinking about if he is thinking anything at all. A cigarette always burning away in his trembling hand as the ashes make their gentle descent to the ground. It seems as if he waits for me everyday as if I am his only real contact to the outside world (except for his “helpers”). His whole body shakes as he mutters those few almost incomprehensible words to me. Over time, I have been able to decipher it into a simple “How are you?” What is going on in his head as he has this short conversation with me? Almost automatically, I will respond with a simple “Good,” so inside I feel like a decent person for interacting with him while the rest of the world just looks the other way. Why am I so selfish as to think that I am helping him by throwing these simple words at him? I am just like everybody else; always looking down on them as if I am such a good person and I deserve to be patted on the back for my good deeds. He looks back at me and mumbles some inaudible words to which I give a fake smile and nod and look back. Why am I feeling so embarrassed to talk to him? Excuses go through my head for why I shouldn’t continue our conversation. Missing the bus seems to be a popular one. I do not want to but egotistically I feel superior to him without even knowing him. Every morning, he is there. Without even knowing why, I begin feeling angry with him, with all of them for forcing me to interact with them on a daily basis. I feel awful for having this anger, but I can’t seem to make it go away. I know that he is like everyone else and does not deserve this much discrimination. If he sees all of the staring eyes or even worse the avoiding eyes, he does not show it. He just stares into the sunset; without a trouble in the world. I now realize I am jealous of him. He does not care about what people around him think or what they whisper about him behind his back. His situation does not bring him down. Now I know for sure that I am jealous. If I could only life a life free of all these complications, without all these judgments, only with a cigarette and a sunset.
A Cigarette and a Sunset
January 22, 2008