The old man hobbled down the streets pushing a rickety cart, filled with black bags.
He walked in a strange gait, humming to himself, sometimes muttering out loud.
His milky beady eyes peered out of a gaunt face into the world, and each pair of eyes
he met briefly held his own, before glancing down, up, sideways, past.
He tried to smile at a baby as the baby and his/her mother walked by,
but the mother sensed this for the child started to excitedly move against her.
She looked to the source, and upon meeting the man’s half crooked smile,
quickly covered her child’s face with her hand, moving right along.
The man watched as two teenagers walked by, soda and snack in hand.
One’s face was screwed up, as if in deep distaste. She muttered something to her
friend, before dumping the snacks and drink into a trash can nearby. Her friend
laughed out loud, looked undecidedly at his/her own, before deciding to do the same.
S/he looked back into the trash whimsically, as though undecided about what s/he had done.
The man looked at the traffic jam to his right, the unrelenting line up. As he hobbled along,
pushing his cart, singing, humming and muttering, he looked from one passenger and
driver’s face to the other, at the ones who impatiently craned their necks forward,
the ones who wearily tilted their head to the side, idly watching life pass by,
the ones who looked at their nails with a lot of attention, as their neighbour ceaselessly
ranted and complained,
the ones on the phone, the ones trying to eat, the ones singing along, the ones sitting up straight,
the old man noticed them all.
They noticed him too, their eyes told him.
Noticed his strange walk, his milky beady eyes, noticed his rattling cart, noticed the black bags in the cart, noticed his clothing, noticed his shoes, noticed his beard, noticed his balding head,
noticed his calloused hands, noticed his malformed nails, noticed, noticed, but did not see, see. They did not see him.
They did not catch and hold his gaze,
They did not smile his way,
They did not wave at him,
They did not wish him well.
He saw that they wondered what he was doing, where he was going, why he let himself be this way. He saw that they judged, they avoided, they pretended, they pitied, none restored his
dignity. None gave him his pride, none blessed his humanity, none showed him brotherhood,
none showed any faith in him.
This old man, beady and milky eyes, who came from prestigious home, upbringing and life.
Who lost his mind unbeknown to all in his life. Misunderstood, misconstrued, who was
subjected to years of hospitalization, experimentation, job, marriage and friend losses, who struggled to understand himself, and what was befalling him.
Who found a much simpler life, out in the open, out walking in the streets,
where the eyes that avoided or failed to meet his, and the ones where when they finally did,
were not much different than the ones he had found at home.