December 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
There was a man standing in the middle of Cambridge Circus, right in front of Pizza Hut.
It was peak time (as if it never is in the West End in London) and cars, buses, people, black cabs and cyclists tried to find their way in the middle of the chaos. There was noise from all sides and so many languages could be heard, one could almost think he was in Babel.
This man looks about 50 years-old. He has a longish grey hair, with sideburns in the same colour, but his beard is dark. His skin is slightly tanned, but has a harsh aspect as that of someone who spent sometime working outside under a burning sun.
The man has rough hands, with calluses and scars, particularly one in the centre of both palms. His face also has some scars, he wears a blue bandanna, old and faded like his denim jacket. In his forehead, below the line where the bandanna ends, it’s possible to see some more marks in his skin.
Well, the man is not skinny, he is actually overweight, from years of eating fast foods and drinking beer. Under his denim jacket, he wears a plain black t-shirt, a bit too tight for his body shape. He doesn’t seem to mind, though.
People walk pass him and they don’t pay attention. He’s used to this, sometimes someone will stop and make a funny remark because of his outfit, but he doesn’t care. He has stopped caring a long, long time ago what others think. He has struggled with his sins and with the sins of others and he’s supposed to now be a free man. He’s aware it’s only an illusion, though. He’s free from judgement and from guilt, but no one is free these days.
The man turns his back to the road and stares at the HSBC bank in the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue. He ponders where to go next. The West End annoys him, all those selfish and bored people during the day and all those decaying people in desperate situations at night. He doesn’t mind the tourists, they come and go more often than he can assimilate.
In the back of his denim jacket, who has seen many winters, there are some very faded letters in blue. It’s possible to read “God loves you”, but the y is almost invisible if it’s not looked closely. There’s a patchwork of a big cross involved in fire under the letters. It’s almost black as if it had only been washed by the rain.
So, the man looks up. He looks at the grey sky, the Sun hidden behind the clouds and he smells the air. The West End doesn’t smell good, mind, but he smells the sadness in the air and the loneliness of all those people that walk down the road, hurriedly and having to be somewhere. Those people surrounded by others, surrounded by friends, probably going to the pub later for a couple of pints that will turn out to be 5. Those people who believe that are unsatisfied with silly things and people who need to keep on moving in order to avoid the realization that they are bored and their lives hardly ever have any meaning.
He thinks his time here is over. His time has been over for so many years, he can’t even remember. But he has nowhere to go. Barely anyone believes in him with honesty and those that do are in most shameful shadows of humanity. He doesn’t even know if he exists. Sometimes it seems like it, but it could be all an illusion. The mind can be very tricky. He stares at the sky with his deep brown eyes and he scratches his beard. His eyes have something sad about it, but wise, so wise that they could be said that belonged to an old soul, if one believes in such a thing. Nevertheless, they were eyes that had seen many things, mostly misery and agony.
The man feels the drop of water on his nose. He starts to feel the cold drizzle touching his skin. It feels refreshing. Cold. Wet (it is water, after all). It makes him feel alive. He remembers all the beauty, the joy and the kindness he has seen as well. There’s hope inside humans. There must be. But then again, it could all be an illusion.
He started walking and soon had disappeared among the passing tourists.