Wednesday, September 30, 2009


There's this man who lives in my condominium building and whenever I see him, he looks sad. Lonely and quiet and depressed. He spends his days sitting on a bench outside the building and slowly chain-smoking cigarettes. Sometimes after a smoke, he'll sit on the couch in the lobby and ponder about life. He watches the occasional passing cars and people. He seems to be waiting for someone or something to come by. Patiently sitting there but impatiently waiting. He looks miserable. He dresses himself in flannel shirts, in mostly too big clothes and wears beat up sneakers.

One day, while driving by the plaza on Kennedy and Lawrence, opposite of the Shoppers Drug Mart, I saw him searching through the plastic bags of clothing donations. The ones that were placed outside the drop box because it was filled up to the top. For him, it must've been ordinary to be hunting for clothes this way. A million thoughts and questions awoke at that point and I was left with unanswered questions.

I can't imagine how he pays the rent every month. Or how he manages to survive physically but particularly emotionally. He doesn't look healthy neither does his state of mind.

Despite his bizarre behaviour, I've seen him happy once before. He shaved that day, cleaned himself up a bit. He pulled out the only suit he had out of his closet. Black. A crisp, ironed dress shirt. White. A nice pair of black dress shoes. His eyes were alive. He was awake. And a smile was painted on his face. I wondered where he was going that day. Perhaps he was off to a job interview, my mother said. Seeing him this happy triggered a sense of hope in me. Maybe in the near or far future, he could be this happy every day.

However, the next day, he was at the same spot, sporting the same red flannel shirt he usually wears. And he was no longer alive. He was dead.

I can't help but feel sorry for him. I don't think it's the kind of pity you feel when you see a homeless person roaming around the streets and uttering words to themselves or begging for money because they have nothing. Absolutely nothing. No, it's something entirely different. It's more like sincere pity. It's earnest. True. Heartfelt.

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