By: Thamayanthi Giritharan
Downtown Toronto. It’s an extremely busy area. People of all kinds go this way and that; going to work, going to school, going anywhere to continue a blessed life. Have you ever observed all these people? Yes, I know it seems a bit nosy and meddlesome but I can’t help myself! There are so many people that comprise this city – people from all corners of this blue and green ball (it’s known as Earth). All these people have somewhere to go and something to do with life. Well, almost all; some aren’t as fortunate.
I walk on the cracked road in downtown while going to school. Just like everybody else, I’m going somewhere and I cannot be late – but it looks like I am going to be (again). Cars are honking while smoke is puffing out like mad; looks like another traffic jam. Hopefully, I am not late for school; hopefully I haven’t forgotten my homework (again). *Sigh* It sure is a humid day and it’s so hot – hey!
“Sorry miss. Here’s your backpack. You better get to school if you don’t want to be late!”
“Thank you,” I respond to a man of no interest. He looks like a businessman; another busy person in this hustling city. Hmm, there’s a man sitting on the street. I wonder why he’s sitting on the pavement on such a hot and sunny day (it’s 34 C you know!).
As I near the man I find he has no shoes. His clothes seem so tattered and aged. He’s wearing sunglasses – I wish I had some, it is super sunny! Next to his bare feet is a cane and a small baseball cap with a couple of quarters in it. Poor man, he must be homeless. It breaks my heart to see someone with no home and unprotected, yet virtually everyone passing by is living safely.
“Oh, Tessa! It’s a homeless guy! Don’t go near him – he might have a disease! Run away from him!” a little girl secretly and loudly whispers to her friend. I wonder how he must feel when he hears these things. He must be hurt but will never show it. I unzip my bag and search for some loose change. A loonie, three toonies and a couple of quarters, that’s all I have today.
“Hello. Um, I have something to put in your cap,” I timidly state. I briskly drop the coins into the cap and didn’t say another word. I patiently wait for a while to hear anything he might respond.
“Thanks,” is all he says. I nod politely and leave for school (even though I’m already much too late). He then says something else loud enough for me to hear but quiet enough so no one else would, “Now I have money to buy a decent meal to last for a couple of days.” I wonder how he walks with no shoes.
Today is another day; another busy day. I promised myself (and my teacher) that I wouldn’t be late today. However, I’m early enough to have a little chat.
“Hello. I have a bit more money today. You can buy a great meal of Chinese food with this,” I say to him without sounding too corny.
“Do you pity me?”
I was in jolt, “Uh, I just want to help you sir.”
“Ah, don’t say ‘sir!’ Call me Jacob.” He gestures a handshake and I accept. “It’s obvious to say you’re a girl; your hands are smooth and well moisturized – not like any self-respecting guy I know!” he heartily laughs. I was a bit perplexed. “Would you like to come in and buy food with me?”
I respond, “I’m sorry but I have school. Maybe some other day.”
“Yes, I remember when I was in school. I used to be a math professor, you know.” Wow, a math professor! Why is he on the street now? I decide its best not to inquire.
“Bye Jacob. By the way, my name is Terry. I hope to see you tomorrow!” I say.
“I might not see you, but you’ll definitely see me.”
Today I decide to visit Jacob again. I walk down the cracked road on my way to school and find Jacob sitting there once again on this hot and sunny day. Well, at least he has his sunglasses. Although, I went to a store and did pick up something.
I greet, “Hey Jacob!”
“Hello. What’s in the bag?”
“I wanted to get you something so I bought some –”
“Terry, before you say anything I want to ask if you can donate this money to a charity of any kind.”
“Yeah, do you really want to give this money away?”
“Yes.” He gave me $10.00 for charity. It may not be much but it’s all he has. Even in the midst of being homeless, he still has the heart to help other unfortunate beings.
“Don’t worry Jacob, I won’t disappoint you. Well, I bought some shoes for you. I know it’s not Nikes® or anything fancy, but I hope you like it!”
Jacob tried them on and looked very pleased. His face shone and happily said, “Oh thank you so much! It’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me in a long while! These shoes are comfy!”
I then ask out of curiosity, “Do you like the style?”
“Terry, I’m sure the style is wonderful but you see, I’m afraid I cannot enjoy it. I’m blind.”
I was in awe. With his kind heart and little supplies, he still gets through his life of hardships. I cannot believe how he survives, but I’m glad he does.
“You know what Terry, one day I’d like to have my job back.”
“Don’t worry, I’m sure you will soon.” I unzip my bag come across a five-dollar bill. “Here’s some cash to turn your dream into reality.”
He gently smiles with a twinkle in his eye. “Thanks.” I leave for school hoping to see him another day.
Courtesy: 'Scarborough Youth Writers', A collection of Short stories selected from the Short story Competition 2006, published by Scarborough Writers Association (Canada) with the support of Scarboroug Arts Council (Canada).