October 25, 2006
Having been working around the clock, I neglected the season, the weather or the time. It seemed even irrelevant where I lived. All I needed was my bed and my bath. They kept me feeling alive. When I got the chance to get out of my office building to have the luxury for lunch which did not involve any crappy sandwich or salad by my desk, I was a little dazzled, like someone was not used to seeing the light after going through the tunnel. The sky stayed high and calm and I breathed deeply the chilliness, which certainly helped me locate my brain, which, according to my best friend Y, has been forgotten somewhere for quite a while.
It was his corner, his territory, his office. He stood there reaching out his mug every day for changes. I passed him by every day and every day I gave him a smile and “bonjour”. It might not be something he was begging for but it was something I could only offer. He was not even old, seemingly healthy, at least physically. I did not know why he chose this as a way of living and I could not judge. It was his life, his decision. Maybe he just took whatever appeared easiest or maybe he was just weak, not courageous enough to confront himself, as everyone else at a point of time.
An old old melody was shuffled from my iPod. It put my walking steps on pause for a brief second. I actually had absolutely no idea why that song was even in my iPod. It was a popular campus song 13 or 14 years ago, sung often by a tall big young man with a puffy face, who fell in love with me for some unknown reasons, maybe reasons that he did not even know himself. I was at the time busy perfecting the image of my white knight without any practical experience and so good at saying no to everyone, including him. Because of me, he added to his geography vocabulary a place called hailun, my hometown. And in a really cold winter day, he took the train to hailun ( the journey was close to 24 hours) without informing me, just to see where I grew up. When told about that, I felt the action was more silly than romantic. Of course when love was not what you wanted, it was more of a burden than pleasure. Yet today, the memory, which was clearly lost over the years, was shuffled back randomly and touched my heart in an odd way. And he, probably someone’s husband and father, might have completely forgotten what he did and certainly was not, and would not be aware how his impulsive action years ago brought a smile on my face today at the other side of the earth. How out of context we were! When we were young, we were so silly however so fearless, we did whatever we thought worth doing without calculating the risks, without caring about the result. Was that why we missed youth?
I passed by the beggar again in this chilly autumn day, gave my usual smile and “bonjour”. Surprisingly for the first time, he smiled back. All of sudden, I felt something was connected between him and myself, maybe something we both needed: a smile to keep each other warm and to survive the coldness.
Posted by pengbo at October 25, 2006 5:36 PM