29 April 2013

Shadows

He was there for a week - the man from the shadows. Whenever I went past, he was just sitting there cross-legged, next to the bus shelter in the shadow of the concrete pedestrian bridge that arches over Ratchadaphisek Road. Next to him were his tattered bags - containing who knows what - but I could see the blue tops of several water bottles peering out.

In Bangkok you don't see many beggars, "down and outs" or men of the road but if you look you may notice them - lurking in the shadows as brightly coloured taxis, Mercedes Benzes and silver Toyotas flash by. Who knows what their stories are? Sometimes I'm sure it's about mental ill-health or breakdowns that have left them on their own, surviving on these hot streets.

His bare feet were literally blackened with ingrained dirt.His gnarled hands were not much better. He wore raggedy clothes and bizarrely a thin green motor cycle helmet - more like a German World War II helmet than a modern one designed to protect skulls from tarmacadam. He just sat there for seven days as plum coloured bank workers caught buses and working people like me strolled down to the Major Cineplex Centre with money in our pockets. Nobody seemed to notice him.
I wanted to give him something so one evening I poured all of my accumulated loose change into a plastic bag and placed  this in front of him as I walked by. He formed his hands into the traditional "wai" greeting - showing thanks and respect. There must have been two hundred baht in that bag - about four English pounds. It would surely help him a little on his journey through the shadows. 

The following day he was gone and I haven't seen him since. His story. My story. Lines that cross. Perhaps I should have given him more, brought him food, brought him back to my little apartment for a shower but I must admit that I was wary of him. You wouldn't know what you were letting yourself in for. Maybe best to just leave the bag of coins and slip away.

4 comments:

  1. A deposit paid into the Karma bank.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Afterwards, why do we always think we should have done more?

    LLX

    ReplyDelete
  3. Moving and well written YP
    THANK YOU

    ReplyDelete
  4. Always difficult to know how far we can trust but I think you did something really good, YP. As Libby says, 'A deposit paid into the Karma bank'.

    ReplyDelete

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