THE PAIN IN SAMUEL'S EYES
The traffic light was red, and so she stopped. The radio was loud and she
took the opportunity to turn it down. Unknown to her
as she turned the offending piece of machinery to a lower volume,
a man had stepped up tothe window of her car. The fright she got
when she looked up was tremendous, after all she was alone in the
inner city and it was nearly dark. Her fear was unfounded;
however, as she realised that he was merely a beggar who
had come to ask her for money.
She was compelled to look at him again, as there was
something about him that drew her attention. Maybe it was the scars
on his face, scars that looked like road maps, perhaps it was
the hair that grew like weeds on his unkempt head, but it was
actually neither. It was his eyes that caught and held her attention;
they were a composite mix of worldliness and innocence. Sadness.
Pain. Hunger. All beneath the haze of drug-induced oblivion.
Why? The question hung in the air about him like an aura.
The depth of emotion beneath the veneer of strength was almost tangible.
"Bread. Money for bread Madam. I am so hungry." He said through
the glass barrier of the window.
It wasn't pity that she felt for this stranger, but
something else. A connection made in the minute it took for her
to examine him from the safety of her car. She reached into her
handbag and dug around for some money to give him, even though she
knew the money would be spent on glue or methylated spirits or cheap
alcohol. She opened the window and offered him the money,
but before she let him take it she asked him what his name was.
"Samuel," he replied.
She could read the confusion in his eyes.
The robot turned green and the car behind her hooted.
She could see his face in the rear-view mirror and she wondered.
What happened to put Samuel in that position? Who was at fault?
His family? The politician who watched the sunset from the comfort
of a leather armchair? Destiny? Fate? These thoughts troubled her on
her long drive home, home to a comfortable and happy home, a home
that Samuel could only dream of. She felt pity and she felt
guilt, but mostly she felt rage. A righteous indignation that
bubbled through her veins like hot lava in a volcano, but there
was nothing she could do for him and she understood that.
She had never really understood the need for change within her
country until she had seen the pain and hunger in Samuel's eyes.
The neglect was real. She couldn't just sweep it under the carpet
because it didn't affect her. She had now seen firsthand the
plight of the underprivileged that she previously only read
about, or watched on television.
She got into bed and lay next to her sleeping husband and she
worried. She worried about how she could wake up tomorrow morning
and pretend everything was the same, when it was all different.
She worried about where Samuel was sleeping. She worried about
the children who were going to be born into the chaos. She fell
asleep with the image of Samuel's pain and hunger-filled eyes in
her mind, and she dreamt of revolution and a better life. Her
life had changed forever, nothing could be the same again.