A DIFFERENT KIND OF PEACE
‘Bruv please can I have some money from you?’
And that was it, well as simple as that. I remember that evening, well the whole day somehow stood out for me. Those kind of days where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. From missed train connections to failed transactions and mobile phone forgotten at home, intricate and non-intricate details, something did go wrong for me. The elements played their committal part, cold and brutal, the evening weather reminded me of my missing woolly scarf usually around my neck. My mind, here and there wondering, thinking, calculating as I stepped off the train. It was then I heard the voice.
‘Bro please can I have some money from you, need some money to complete my train ticket’
I remembered turning my head around, in a half-circle, our eyes connecting. Mine icy and expressionless and his, almost fading, but still with emotion. He was an elderly man, tall, dressed in some kind of unfashionable work overalls. He shivered a little; the cold nibbled slowly on him, hands almost clattering. He proceeded to speak, explaining his need he had for some money so he could get going home. Tearing my will from my conscience, albeit momentarily, I muttered that I did not have and walked slowly away. It was, of course, not true. I had the ‘change’ he needed, but replied that I didn’t.
My brother, will you blame me? As with an African mentality, I am led to believe that there is some kind of evil lurking behind every pale-faced beggar, every small request. That when a beggar by the road side, male or female begs and takes their fill till their cup runneth over, they have also taken some useful thing from you, in some diabolical manner. Hence suspicion usually follows any act of charity made, in this case- What if he was lying? What if he was some junkie needing to refill his tobacco and alcohol intake? And, the funniest of them- what if he is some bad ghost, some apparition in flesh sent to haunt me? What if…?
I remember trying to convince myself as I slowly walked away. My conscience was having none of it though. ‘Go and help him’, I heard my inner man, speaking to my outer man plainly, remorsefully. And so it happened- I blocked out whatever ‘what if’s’ that also spoke to me at that time, and walked back some 100 yards to meet the man. There, I met him, shivering in the cold, staring in the empty space, wondering how he would get home. ‘Thank you, God bless you’, he muttered, as he gratefully took the money from me. The next action he did threw me and blew me, quite literally, away- he calmly walked to the train ticket machine- and bought a train ticket for his journey.
I remember thinking how silly intellectualism was. How derisory expressed philosophy and education could be. I remember wondering how our judgements is prone to failure because, indeed, we are not infallible creatures. Because then, as I watched the old man express gratitude, as I watched the old man actually buy a train ticket, I realised that whatever historical-based empirical analysis I had previously engaged in, the haves and the have not, I was actually very wrong. And I could have missed helping one who needed some help.
And that is what the world refuses to remind us, what those who pontificate from religious robes and adornment refuse to state again to us, that is what our claimed learning and education refuse to state, that is what socialism, capitalism, communism seem not to speak to us- that goodwill to all men, irrespective of colour of skin, tribe, sexual orientation or any other definitive trivial factors- is peace of a special different kind, is the only needful thing. I say this and hold this to be true, because as he offered his gratitude to me, as he gingerly walked away to buy his ticket, as he walked up the steps towards the train platform- I felt it, something rather special, yet strange in a blissful kind of way. I felt it- a different kind of peace.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF PEACE