You could have known by the weather that there was something in the air, a peculiarity hanging over everyone, everything. One second, glistening sunlight, shimmering street-lights and the next, an overwhelming sea of raindrops, coating the concrete in a thin film of oily water.
Yet, as night approached, a calmness ensued throughout the town, everything was back to it’s rightful, normal place. As I walked home, I felt surrounded by this calmness, perhaps overwhelmingly so, almost like never before. I walked with a slow pace, thinking about nothing in particular: what music I was going to put on when I got home, what I thought was in store for me tomorrow – a whole host of things.
I seemingly turned a corner and stopped. I had to stop. There was nothing I could do but look at this immensely beautiful scene. The man was carrying his suitcase with an annoyingly loud rattle along the pavement. Yet, it wasn’t that which attracted my attention. The way that the woman walked hand in hand with him, holding onto him, kissing his neck was incomprehensibly beautiful and pure. He must have been away far, or away for a long time, perhaps even both. Maybe even just a day. Yet, to me, it was love. Pure, immortal love, you could almost see a visible connection piercing through them, drawing them closer.
It wasn’t so much of a jealousy that overcame me, more of a feeling of complete an utter infatuation. I was so pleased to see something like that in the world, something so happy and care free, lost in one another.
I continued my walk with a vague sense of optimism, not for me personally, but an optimism for the world, that there is light. The couple are best described as a small flickering candle amongst a raging ocean. The ocean, omnipotent in its power, a haunting rage as the waves crashed and flowed towards the shore. Yet, impossibly, one thing managed to stay afloat. A beam of light, so impossibly small that it couldn’t be overcome or drowned out by the menacing and malicious waves. There was without a doubt, very little direction to the way they were going, which was probably the most calming aspect of the couple – they were carefree, taken by each other, just as the candle may well drift across oceans for decades, or within the next day, be washed upon a beach somewhere entirely unknown.
Anonymity is, ironically, an undiscovered and underrated sensation. In whatever form it comes in, shows itself to the world, it invokes responses which we cannot be responsible for. The couple remain completely anonymous to me, and little do they know the profound impact I’m having writing about them, nor do they realise that to me, they are a flickering light in a sea of darkness.
Similarly, the lady I saw next will remain anonymous for some time to me. I presume so at least. I walked past her in my navy woollen pea-coat, the lapels raised to protect the back of my head from the cold, I could have been Sherlock Holmes if one only caught a glance of my slender figure as I walked past. That’s exactly what I did to the lady before turning back. I walked past, ignored her presence completely, only my subconscious held onto what she said. This made me turn around.
She was on the floor, shivering in a blanket, obviously all she had. Her entire belongings consisted of a shoddy blanket, a bobble-hat with tassels and grey-green eyes. I approached, and asked what she needed – there was very little chance of me giving her money. I didn’t know the woman, after all. And that doesn’t solve the problem. All she asked for was some ‘pop’. I got her a cola and a bottle of water; her gaze was fixed on the water, not the coke. She gave a smile, a hungry, tired, but grateful ‘Thank you, God Bless’.
As I walked into the night, knowing she probably watched me as a flickering light in the darkness, as I had watched the couple moments before, I felt an uncontrollable sense of melancholy, an unshakable sadness. I felt a tear stream, for why, I couldn’t quite understand. I had seen and come by plenty of people who were homeless, yet nobody had the profound impact that this woman had had. I was in awe. I had so much, I was going home, probably to have a warm cup of tea, curl up and read my book in the warm, the safe shelter of my attic abode, whilst she would, and still will, have to fend off the bitter wind, rogue and impolite, violent people.
As I walked, looked up at the night, looked on down the street, all I could think of was the scale and scope of the injustice and inequality of the world. However cliché that might seem, it’s true. As I’m writing on my laptop, knowing I can help her, even a little bit with my insignificant wage from my part time job, able to give her another chance of a life she could lead, the realism within me slowly grows. As much as this sadness has had an impact on me, I cannot help everyone. There is still a scope to all of this, however. Do as much or as little as you can. That is all I ask. You may not feel obliged to do so, you may not have the means, the courage or the knowhow. But, sometimes, sudden urges are bestowed upon you, throughout you. That’s my eternal optimism at least. I do not do these things as much as I should, but I believe everybody has the capacity to be somebody’s flickering light amongst a sea of disturbing darkness.