In the most crowded part of the city there is a beautiful corner. It is attached to a huge bridge connecting the main street and it has an artificial waterfall with long green leaves hanging to the ground. There are benches where tired people can sit to smoke or have a cup of tea or coffee.
I know the corner well because I pass it Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings when I have class. When I come to the corner I am always in a hurry and almost running, but from the first day a man attracted my attention. He was about 50 years old, but his untidy hair and beard made him look older. I saw him every evening. He sat on the same bench smoking or drinking a cup of tea. Although I am always going fast when I pass the corner, I always slow down to see if he is there or not.
He was an interesting man. He was always alone and I never saw him smile or laugh. Was he angry with the world? His eyes were shiny under thick eyebrows, always staring at something though I am sure he was not seeing the beautiful corner. His old, dirty clothing showed that he was not interested in what people around him thought. I wanted to go talk to him and ask him why he was disappointed. But I had little time. I imagined that he lived a different life, that he had secrets and that the bridge to his dreams had broken. In my eyes, he was a hero of the battle, as if he had struggled for everything in life and failed, or that he had lost the most precious person or thing in his life. He looked calm, but there was no light inside, just a shadow. He sat doing nothing but smoking his cigar. Every day as I passed the corner I observed him.
One evening the weather was cold and foggy and everywhere was the smell of snow. As usual I was in a hurry, almost running. As I passed the corner I turned to look for him, but in the fog it was difficult to see. I continued and then I suddenly saw a shadow passing close to me. It was first time I had seen him not on the bench. He walked slowly and aimlessly. I felt the coldness of the weather on the tips of my fingers. I waited and watched for a while until he disappeared into the fog.
I never saw him again. But he taught me a big lesson. In my eyes he was a hero who had struggled for survival. But unfortunately he was a failed hero. I know nothing about his life, but I am sure about one thing: that he is so disappointed he no longer aims or tries for happiness.
It made me reconsider. I have had a hard life and I have become disappointed. But I have decided not to give up so easily. I will stand against every kind of difficulty.
photo: Asad Hasan