When things come to the issue of homeless people and begging, I have to admit that I have a divided opinion. Because I have seen a couple of times how the charity of people was exploited. But I do not want to write about that since it does not justify the disregard that many homeless people experience. Many gestures have reminded me that they are also only humans and that some people do pay attention to them:
I am talking about small things, for example when a friend, who was waiting for us in the city, was having a conversation in front of the shop with the woman who was begging there. Another friend is always giving some of the fruits she is rescuing from the market to homeless people on her way home. And a while ago, when I was sitting at the train station and waited, the woman next to me was asked for some money- and she gave the asking one not only coins, but also her scarf.
From a friend I received a heart-warming story about this topic and humanity:
It is past midnight and we’re standing in some backroom of the Labour Club. A faint tune of music is still lingering in the air and the taste of poetry has not yet left our lips. It is well past midnight and we float suspended in time. It is easy to live on nights like that. Earlier that day there had been a different event here – one without music and poetry, probably without beer but with cake. And now we stand in front of the leftovers of that sweet feast already half on our way.
‘Take some cake with you’, somebody says. But we are unsure.
‘I don’t know. I don’t feel like cake right now’, one of us says.
‘Well, if you don’t take it, it’ll be thrown away.’
‘In that case, I guess we should take some’, I yield. ‘If we don’t eat it, the boys will be more than happy to get some cake.’
We are handed a box and load it to the edge. Then we’re out the door and in the not-quite-yet-warm night. There are hardly any cars on the streets and barely more people. Only ever so often the door of a pub opens releasing a handful of tipsy people who are moving in bubbles of space and time parallel to ours as we had to the market place and down the shopping street. The town is beautiful at night – the grey of the asphalt now reflects a spectrum of blues and purples and black, the sky reveals its endless depth flecked with the occasional star, the warm glow of the street lamps makes the shadows dance, makes them come alive and move oscillating between flamenco and a slow waltz.
There is more life down by the street where all the clubs are. There is a constant stream of flocks of people between the clubs and bars and the street. Like fragmented planets they spin through the night on their own small orbits almost oblivious of the world around them. And we move in our own little orbit past the party people to where the street splits in two. We’re almost on the street leading to the cab rank when Indigo stops and points down the other road.
‘Wait’, she exclaims. ‘There is a homeless person. I want to give him cake.’
And so, we turn on our heels and march down the other street and come to a halt next to the man sitting on the ground, leaning against the wall of the building, overlooked by the happy and the drunk all around him.
‘Hi, would you like some cake?’, Indigo asks, and the man looks up. He is younger than I expected, and I can see on his tired face that it takes him a while to register that Indigo was talking to him.
‘It was left over, and they would have thrown it away, so we took a whole box full of cake. Feel free to take as much as you like.’ His face lights up and I wonder, when was the last time he’d had cake? He takes a look into the box and carefully selects the slices of cake he likes best. He laughs and holds them up to his face and suddenly at least some of the tiredness is gone replaced by the pure joy of a child, the inner child most have lost on the way, and I see all the beauty of the world mirrored in his eyes.