It’s a dark night. Or rather it’s going to be. Dusk has fallen and the cloudy sky helps make such predictions. The roads are mostly deserted. It isn’t a time when many frequent the roads.
But there’s one man walking. He’s wearing an official’s suit, still as crisp as it had been in the morning, his hair neatly plastered to his head and his face hidden in the shadows.
His brown boots raise clouds of dust as he moves forward. He frowns. He doesn’t like dust. He likes everything neat and polished. You’d know if you saw his hands. Neat filed nails, manicured fingers – the entire package.
Your first glance will tell you he’s one of society’s good men – A picture of all gentlemanly qualities, miles away from any vices. Doesn’t lie, doesn’t think ill of others and no sinful emotions of gluttony, envy, lust has ever marred his hidden face.
His stiff starched collar will tell you how meticulous he is when it comes to dressing himself. And Society appreciates this very much. Such stiffness of character is always a symbol of goodness and virtue. One would think it wouldn’t take him much to abstain from the evils of that fatal drink and One’s judgement wouldn’t be too far off the mark.
Our gentleman continues his walk. His pace is slow, relaxed. But his body is as rigid as ever. He probably never lets it loose. One can only wonder at his expression, his face still being hidden in the shadows.
As he takes a turn around the corner of the street he crosses a park bench with a pile of rags heaped over it. On close inspection the pile of rags metamorphoses into a man. He has an unkempt beard, matty hair that hasn’t been washed in a while and bloodshot eyes. Who knows when he went home last? Or whether he even has one. The foul stench and broken bottle in his hand leave no scope for any doubt. Yes. He’s the perfect contrast to our goodly gentleman. He is everything that society abhors – a failure, an addict, a sinful man. And he lies there like a castaway.
Besides his drunken stupor and freedom to lie on a bench in the night, he hasn’t got much to his name.
A few steps further and he sees another person. This time it’s a woman. So much for the roads being deserted.
She’s walking quite fast. As if she’s in a hurry. She keeps turning back to look at someone. When the streetlamp lights her face, the obvious fear in her eyes seems to shine like a beacon. Someone’s after her.
It could be a robber or a rapist or a murderer or a harmless man like our gentleman. Maybe the lady’s fear is a figment of her imagination? But her eyes grow larger with relief as soon as they fall on the gentleman walking in her direction.
But the gentleman hardly sees her. Rather, hardly attempts to see her. His mind files her away as another stranger, not worth his time.
As he crosses her, she stops for a second, almost on the verge of saying something. But she’s too late for he’s walked on. She turns and flees again. But she’s too late, again. Because before she knows it, there’s another man behind her. This one’s huge and he is no gentleman, for he’s holding a knife to her throat.
Our gentleman continues walking straight. He probably didn’t see the man accost the lady. But it’s okay. She’ll scream and he’ll hear it. And sure enough, a high pitched shriek pierces the silence of the night the very next second. She screams for that gentleman, looks in his direction. But there’s no break in his stride. As he passes the lamp post, you see his face. Apathy. Indifference. There’s no sign that he even heard the scream. Aah. I forget. He’s a good man. Doesn’t interfere in the affairs of others. So, obviously he’s right in not turning around and going back to help that lady.
Soon the gentleman reaches the turn that takes him off that cursed street. Not that it mattered whether he heard the exchange or not. It didn’t concern him, so it didn’t interest him.
However had he looked behind he’d have seen the woman in hysterics, the brute with the knife demanding her purse and then a rather huge man interrupting him. He had a broken bottle in his hand and a stinking smell about him, this huge man, dressed in what could only be described as rags.
The man with the knife threatens him and a fight ensues, at the end of which the lady’s free to go. The pile of rags saved her.
She runs screaming without another glance at her savior. There’s no thank you, no polite conversation or offer of help in return. But you can’t blame her. After all she must still be in shock and being grateful to such a bum isn’t so easy, is it? She probably thought he’d attack her too.
Luckily, the man doesn’t care. So he just wipes the blood from his face and moves on in search of another bench, shivering from the cold. Meanwhile, our gentleman’s reached his home. As he climbs the steps to the door, a sigh escapes him. He can’t wait to sink in his warm bed, in the arms of his mistress and fall asleep.
Tomorrow, He’ll get up again and go to his job, work hard and earn his daily bread and society will appreciate his life, remember it, cherish it after he passes away. But what about that man from the bench, you ask? He’ll probably continue roaming the streets, a homeless man, a reject and when he dies, nobody, not even the ones he saved will remember him.