Monday, August 27, 2007

The homeless couple (part 2)

It is interesting that you rarely ever see homeless people or beggars in villages or rural areas, which, to city folks, are the poorer or more primitive (or both) places. Yet the cities, with all their bright lights, promises of brighter futures and lives can’t seem to fulfill the dreams of all. One of the things I dislike about cities is the ready availability of the homeless and beggars. So, you can imagine my relative peace when after more than one week in Belo Horizonte (BH), I did not see one beggar or homeless person. I knew that it was only a matter of time (and I was probably in the wrong part of the city to see such a sight), but it still pleased me that it took this long.

And when the dreaded encounter occurred (that is, the breaking of my illusion that maybe just maybe homelessness cannot be found here), I was surprisingly overcome with smiles and wonder for the goodness of the human spirit. Why? Because for the first time in my life, on a bright morning, I saw a homeless couple—a man and woman sleeping with body parts placed on top of each other, keeping warm together. And oddly, they seemed to need nothing from me. Nothing at all. The expression on their faces could easily be that of one sleeping in a waterbed in a room with all the comfort that money can buy. I wanted to take a picture, but I know it would be very rude. I walked by, careful not to violate their space, and frequently looked back to view the beauty before me. Even more amazing, later in the day, I saw this same couple, dirty as can be, holding-hands and going about their way, like the rest of us. The next morning, I passed by the same road, and sure enough, there they were again, sleeping on the floor together. I don’t know what it was about this scene that warmed my heart. I have been analyzing myself on this issue and the best that I can come up with at the moment is that this couple was not homeless, for homelessness is a kind of forced isolation. The homeless live in a busted bubble, outside of the round, big bubble we call society--and they need a visiting pass in order to get into our consciousness. But this couple, despite their apparent homelessness had found a home in each other.

So, homelessness, I have decided, is really abandonment, be it by society, friends, or family. A homeless couple sounds almost contradictory, and here in lies the truth behind every homeless person. The structure of life from society down to individual casts a net to hold everyone in, but somehow some individuals fall or are dropped via the holes of the net and no one goes back for them.

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