Sixty pence 

And so I stood outside the station, with a cup of hot chocolate in hand, wondering how things have rapidly changed. My thoughts took me back to the many tales of bonds and emotional ties , the thread of death that separates and ironically fortifies the connection, the many roads walked and the forks that divide people in their journeys. I couldn’t help but contemplate about that age old symbiotic relationship between a wandering artist and the pain locked away in their stone hearts that burst out and manifest as beautiful , inspiring, tear jerking works of art. I stood thinking about the present. I’ve moved away from such tales. In a way I feel betrayed by this zen state of happiness. Robbed by happiness, robbed of tales and yet I barely long for that twilight of the dark to spin words.
Sixty pence please, a voice interrupted my chain of thoughts. A bloke, affected by the cold; draped in torn jeans and dirty shirt , his voice tried to appeal to my empathy and sensibilities. It wasn’t a long search for that buried goodness of my heart. I usually don’t carry cash. Digital money and spontaneous acts of kindness don’t mix well. I politely refused to spare change. I offered him a smile. Big help that might be to him, I silently wondered in a disgusted shame. I couldn’t help.
The beautiful thing about waiting for friends early in the morning is that one has nothing to do and a lot of time to kill. I continued sipping that cup of hot chocolate and continued to observe the bloke. His ask was rather strategic. Not a pound, not fifty pence, sixty was an unique ask. His luck was tested to it’s limits as he tried asking the daily commuters for a change. The sight left me feeling both blessed and depressed. Many chose to refuse acknowledging his existence. For them, he could very well be a spirit trapped in this world. He had no voice, that could be heard. He had no physical existence that people would acknowledge. He simply ceased to be recognized as someone alive, someone who deserved a denial of charity. 
There were many who continued their steps towards the station, without sparing a moment to accept his presence. Some politely refused. Some nodded their heads and walked away. 
I don’t know what poverty feels like. I’ve never felt poor. I’ve been broke a few times. I guess there is that arrogant confidence that rises its head from the assurance that help is not really too far away. I’ve never felt that rejection from the society. I take my existence for granted. I’ve never really been challenged to push myself to the boundaries of the human spirit , screaming for attention, screaming for an acknowledgement that I am indeed there! I don’t know what it feels to shred the last fading sense of dignity and self esteem and ask for help.
The thought instantly made me feel blessed for what I was and the life that I’ve enjoyed. The thought set an avalanche of depression at the mere observation of the extent of apathy that we express at times. There is no one to blame here. I wouldn’t dare blame the blokes who have and choose to deny spreading that sunshine. I wouldn’t dare blame the failures and hold competence of the blokes who don’t have as a hostage. We are driven by the choices that we make and none of the choices are meant to be generalized into the social bias of right and wrong. 
Sixty pence to me was a reminder of the quintessential craving that drives all of us. Acceptance. Campaigned, marketed causes attract awareness and that translates to better funds. The causes without a voice put up a fierce battle and there are days when there is a victory of sorts. Smiles are delivered. Dignity and the integrity of the human spirit gets rewarded. There are days when it’s a losing battle. Helpless wait on prayers and the goodness of the world. 
I did the best I could. I offered to buy breakfast and cup of coffee. The offer was rejected. Sixty pence was a better alternative. The whole experience left me feeling humbled and slightly overwhelmed by the clockworks of the big wide world. Money is not necessarily evil and basic necessities like food are not always the only things that , we as humans, are deprived of. The change in times, the constant evolution of self, the dynamic volatile nature of wants and needs, everything is subjective. Especially the generous sense of charity that spontaneously takes over us. 

And so my hot chocolate done, the arrival of my friend, the grave thoughts soon were replaced by the mundane routine of a happy obligated whine about the weather and the trains. A wandering artist turns a page, the world continues as it always has, the train of thoughts get substituted by another train of thoughts. Business as usual.

Karthik

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One thought on “Sixty pence 

  1. Did you intend to sum up life in a few words? That was what I felt as I read. All of us experience such set of thoughts with our everyday incidents. When once in a while, we write them down in words, beautiful write ups like this comes out. The man, his desire, your thoughts all of it has got manifested beautifully.

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