Have you seen the old man
In the closed-down market
Kicking up the paper,
with his worn out shoes?
In his eyes you see no pride
And held loosely at his side
Yesterday's paper telling yesterday's news
So how can you tell me you're lonely,
And say for you that the sun don't shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something to make you change your mind.
Streets of London, Ralph McTell.
I don't think they saw. Maybe they did. But if they did, I think the significance of it was different for everyone who saw it.
Everyone impatiently waiting for their turn to place their lunch orders. The endless queues and the hassled cashier girls. Teenage students lazily munching on their burgers and fries. Everyone for his own.
Then, he walked in. Dressed in nondescript clothing, his face was immemorable. But you could tell he hadn't washed in awhile. Nobody noticed him as though he was just part of the interior of the outlet.
Was he wearing a pair of canvas shoes or slippers? I don't seem to remember. He wore something brown; knee-length capri shorts, I think. But it just escapes my mind.
He came from the end of the corridor, where the sink was; probably washed his hands. But I never saw him come in.
"French fries, french fries," he said aloud to himself in Cantonese.
He picked up some cold fries on a tray left over from a meal of two boys in school uniforms. Swiping some from the tray, he happily gobbled them down. He shuffled around, his eyes searching. Approaching a man in his 60's who was certainly more well-off than him, his body movements radiated excitement. You could tell he was happy.
Hesitatingly, he asked the man who wore a beat-up navy blue canvas shoes, "Are you going to have these fries? Do you mind if I have them?"
The man with the blue shoes grunted, barely casting a glance at him or the stale fries left uncleared from a previous patron.
Gladly, he grabbed handfuls of the meagre meal and carefully dropped them into a french fry box. Thanking the man with sincerity, he ambled off leaving the man with the blue shoes barely affected.
And then, I stared at my now-empty mealbox, and I looked at my life; how I'd wished our family had just a little bit more cash so that we can get into varsity; how I've always had a full belly; how I'd spent; how I'd perceived it to be mediocre, average, 'not bad, not good'.
All of a sudden, it seems so indulgent.