Hunger. I feel this post is best explained with a tale, and like most tales, this one begins with the phrase: It all started with…
It all started with a visit to a prominent fast-food outlet. I had no cash on me and my purchase was made with my bank card. As I was leaving, a homeless boy whom I often see hanging around, asked me for some money. I told him that I was sorry but I didn’t have any money. [Not entirely false; I didn’t have any cash on me.]
He said ‘Sorry doesn’t help my hunger.’ He then added rather nastily, ‘You are not a good person.’
I was too far away to hear him clearly, and it was only after proper reflection that I realized what he’d said. Naturally I was livid. Of course I am not a good person but I don’t need to hear that from a f*cking tramp, do I? As luck would have it, I had my revenge the very next Friday. This time, I had money on me. I was about to hand it over when I realized who he was. I couldn’t very well not give him the money, but I also couldn’t not tell him how offended I’d been. [Feel free to stop reading this altogether due to double negatives] I opted to do both.
I said, ‘You! You said I was not a good person the other day. Well I know I’m not but I really didn’t have any money.’
He said, ‘Ah, sister, I never said that.’
I replied, ‘It was last Friday! I know you recognize me.’
He started mumbling and then he said, ‘Sister, I know you give me [money] when you have.’
I handed the money over to him and said ‘Damn right I do!’
As I walked off I thought to myself, can I blame a hungry boy? I then considered the times I’ve felt hungry. Dark, perilous times. 90% of the time I’m hungry because I get so caught up in my daily activities that I often forget to eat at proper intervals. And the result is that before I know it, I am Kraken-like ravenous. This kind of hunger is accompanied by headaches, nausea and a desire to commit numerous violent acts. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 925 million people were hungry in 2010. And unlike me, these people mostly had no choice. Make no mistake, I am very much aware of how fortunate I am.
I mentioned my experience with the boy to someone and they told they don’t give him any money as they have heard here and there, that he uses it to buy more than just food (perhaps alcohol or even drugs). This then begs the question, am I helping him by giving him money? I keep telling myself that if I were homeless I’d be brave and strong, and I’d fight to get off the streets. But if it were so simple wouldn’t there be less homeless people? If every aspect of your existence was a nightmare wouldn’t it be easier to turn to alcohol or drugs to sweeten your dreams?
What am I doing? Starting a charity? Hardly. I’m just reflecting. Have I helped him by doing this? Not a chance. And yet here I am indoors while he is out there. How I ever referred to him as that f*cking tramp is beyond me. I have no idea what he does to survive and he has no idea that he has been on my mind for the better part of two years.