Friday, May 13, 2011

my hero

i intently looked at them, an unlikely pair. the old man, probably about 70 years old, was grandly dressed but he sat decrepit in his gleaming wheelchair. the younger man, about 15 or 16 years old, was just wearing a white t-shirt and worn out denims. it's not hard to guess that the old man was the young man's ward. they were sitting a few tables farther from me in the mall's fastfood center. it was after my work shift and i was passing the time away drinking some hot, strong coffee while awaiting my daughter to show up so we can do some groceries. hot, strong coffee always revitalizes me after a draining day at work, but hot, strong coffee is very dear for my pocket.

both were silent. not conversing with each other. the young man was watching a small group of teenagers animatedly debating what they will be ordering at that sandwich kiosk where they stopped. the guys and the gals were having a difficult time deciding. at one point, one of the young girls collected the money from her companions and counted them. they were laughing loudly, occasionally slapping each other's palms in high fives, just generally having a good time over their problem of which meals to buy with the money they have. i assumed they have other plans later for that afternoon in the mall.

a few minutes later, with two trays full of the food they ordered, the young people sat beside the table where the young man and the old man were sitting. they ate amid bursts of laughter and merriment. they were having lots of fun.  the young man was keeping his eyes on them. especially on the young girls. i saw him flash a wide grin, a soft, shy laugh even, as he overheard a joke or a story being shared by the group. in my mind, he was in silent connection with this group. his peers. he is not physically with them, but he was sharing in their youthful mirth.  ah, the glee, the energy of youth!

the old man was just sitting there in his wheelchair. it seemed to me he was staring at his young companion. his eyes were fixed on him. i later realized his eyes were physically at him but he was not seeing him. he was looking past him. old, tired eyes that stare but never see. never watch. that probably see things differently now. probably seeing events unfolding not at the mall but already beyond the mall. other places perhaps, or other worlds, realms that he sees only with his mind's eyes? i thought, how come he was brought to this mall by his family, when he can no longer enjoy it? what is the purpose?  ah, the loneliness  of old age!

this is unfair for this young man. he should be like those young people beside him enjoying the time of their lives. he should not be here sitting immobile like this decrepit, old man in his gleaming wheelchair. for all i know, this old man surely has also had the time of his life before, where he enjoyed his life in youthful abandon. in merriment, in frolic.

soon, the group of young people was done eating and left. they walked towards where the elevators were. i know the day is not over for them yet. they might be short of money now but the mall is a good place to have fun and young people are very creative. this day will not be wasted for them. the young man watched them leave. he could only follow them with his eyes. i know he will again contend with the silence between him and the old man who was looking at him but was not seeing him. was this day getting wasted for him? he is young but he was immobile, he might just have been the one sitting in that expensive wheelchair.

a few minutes later, the old man's family came. lots of shopping bags were hanging from their arms. there were wide smiles on their faces, obviously contented with their shopping spree. they gathered around the old man, kissed him on the forehead, hugged him, tried to start a conversation with him. i saw the old man smile, conversed feebly with them. the young man stood up and walked behind the old man's wheelchair.

he is ready to wheel the old man to where they can sit again and stare at each other in silence while the old man's family uses his youthful time that day to enjoy themselves. he is the one bearing their burden. i know he is getting paid for doing this. i just hope the pay fully compensates for the quality of time he is losing.

i'd like to see a large Y emblazoned in his shirt. a symbol for SuperYouth.

my hero.

2 comments:

Christopher Dos Santos said...

Namaste my brother; wonderful post. Service to others becomes the essence of great men.

In Lak' esh, sacrifice for love...

sito saguid said...

brother

you've summed it up so well -- "sacrifice for love .."