You have become a constant in my new life. I see you almost every day and each time I still wonder: what is your story? You are always in the same place, in front of an old shop that probably closed years ago, on one of the busiest streets of the city, just by the cathedral. Hundreds of people pass by every day, so I’m curious: do you recognise my face and notice me looking straight at you every time I come by?
You have the look of a father in your eyes. Your posture, your enormous books and your impeccable clothes make me think you are not only an avid reader, but also a writer…a poet maybe. Your white hair gives you a charm that not many men have. You deserve respect, you can teach us things we’ve yet to understand.
You’ve been through so much and I want to know it all. Please, please, tell me what brought you here. Were you a professor and your school cut back their costs? Were you an idealist that thought life would give him what he deserves and not that luck is all we need?
Which policy’s collateral damage are you? Is it the sinking ship that is capitalism? Did you make a wrong decision or did someone make it for you? Do you have a family waiting for you somewhere? When did you decide to write your simple sign: please help me? It’s not a sign of weakness, even though your time is spent asking for a penny. You don’t have any shame in your eyes, just resignation. This is your job, this is the only thing you can do.
Do you believe in God, I wonder. Do you think He will come and save you, make generous people walk past you and pay attention to your sorrows on their day out on holiday? Would you say a prayer for me if I gave you money? Would you ask Him to bless my kind heart? Or would you thank me and wish me luck in life?
Maybe you’re not a writer, maybe you’re a hero. Maybe you fought alongside people who are now long gone, in someone else’s war. You might have a briefcase full of medals we’ll never see. You keep it hidden away because, deep down, you’re ashamed of it. You know it wasn’t your fight, your wish to kill, but they sang songs for you, prayed for you, pushed you towards an invisible enemy you recognised only by their uniform. Maybe they pushed you too hard and you cracked. Maybe they disposed of you as soon as your blood wasn’t young any more.
Your perfectly ironed shirts and your demeanour fascinate me more than you could ever imagine. Because no matter what they did to you, what we, society, did to you, you did not lose your pride, you did not change, you are the same person who you were before.
I’m lucky, so, so lucky and I’m sorry. I want to know your story.