Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why wasn’t he me?

A thin boy approaches nonchalantly and pauses momentarily before extending his hand in the direction of where I am sitting on the floor. It’s the second time I’ve seen him here and a faint look of recognition passes over his otherwise expressionless face.  

Good, I thought. You’ll be seeing a lot more of me here. Like it or not, I’m on your case.

“Mateus?” I say and shake his hand firmly. Any tighter and I would have crunched the bones. 

The arrival creates a natural break in my conversation with Everton - a rambling, paranoid young man just desperate for a way out. Every time he gets up to leave, the dual chains of crack and booze tighten and yank him back down to the ground again. We both take a moment to look at the new arrival and as Mateus surveyed our company, his eyes seem bulbous and luminescent against the tone of his dark skin - like one of those horror movie posters of a human skull with eyeballs.

The young drifter crouches down and accepts the proffered pipe which the two girls to my left had prepared moments before. I am used to seeing kids smoke, toke, drink and sniff, but the immediacy of the event takes me aback for a moment and I get up to go - to separate myself from this present reality which is punching me in guts. By just being there I felt like I was somehow condoning the tragic inevitability of it all. 

Maybe I felt winded because of the sudden realization that if I was born on this part of the world, on this side of the proverbial town, maybe I...would be he. 

Interview with Jackie Pullinger, July 4, 2011

4 comments:

A. said...

Last year I was sitting in a crowd of homeless imigrants passing around a bottle of vodka somewhere in the streets of western Europe...Somehow i think they had a choice...Why did they choose this?
Why does a child who has everything and has LOVING parents choose a life like this?

Luke said...

Hello there. Yes, probably those people you mention have a choice. Most people (apart from those forced into prostitution/slavery) have a valid 'choice' in the choices they make in life and therefore are accountable for such decisions. The point I was trying to make (rather clumsily, for which I apologize!) and the point of the extract was that people should be given a choice whether to accept Christ or not. I don't insist on people listening to what I say...I just want them to have the opportunity to choose life. A new life. If they don't want that, then of course they can continue in their ways.
Does that make it clearer? Or am I confusing things even more?! ;)

A. said...

yes, sorry, it was probably me who was focusing only on a part of the comment above:>

Luke said...

No need to apologise. I am thankful for thoughtful readers like you!

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