Tuesday, December 7, 2010

And so this is Christmas?

Several times a week when I am taking my little dog Bella for a walk along the beach, I often see this young man. He is either sleeping on a bench out side some public toilets, we know what often happens inside male public toilets, or he maybe trying to watch one of the cars in the car park, which might give him a couple of cents and on a bad day, he is sitting staring across the bay at our beautiful Table Mountain.
I say a bad day, because his eyes are glazed over and he seems lifeless inside. I feel sad for him, but I know there is nothing I can do to help him, or so I think.
Usually when I go to the beach for a walk with Bella I walk from my apartment which is one block away, but last Saturday I decided to take the car down because it was quite windy, no not quite, extremely. When I arrived in the car park this young man came up to the car and asked if he could watch my car for me, which would normally mean I should give him a couple of rand to do that, but I said "No you don't need to watch my car, and I will try and help you, but I need to talk to you. Please wait here, I will be back". I went for my walk and the wind really picked up and it was freezing, so I told him I was going to fetch a jacket, something for him to eat and I would be back.

When I pulled into the car park he looked surprised. Probably thought, 'yea right another @#$$%^ that is just going to drive off'.  We sat down on the bench near the toilets and I can hardly describe how he attacked the hamburger, chips and cold drink that I had bought for him. I wanted to talk to him and find out more about him but I also didn't want to ask him questions with a mouth full of food.

When he had finished the hamburger I asked him about his childhood and he told me that he was brought up in an orphanage in Johannesburg, when he left he worked as a painter. I don't want to write here about some of the other things that he told me, but when I noticed the bandage on his arm and enquired about it, he told me that he had tried to commit suicide a week ago, and then rolled up his jacket on both sides and showed me these terrible, deep scars on his arms, obviously not done with a thin shallow slash to get attention but deep cuts clearly done with serious intent to take his own life. He then says to me that no matter what he does to try and kill himself, they stitch him up and send him back into the street.

He looked over towards the mountain and I asked him.

"What are you thinking when you look over there towards that beautiful mountain?" he says...

"No one actually cares!"

I asked him, what do you really want in your life, and he doesn't say, a job, a home, money, he says...

"I want someone to love me!"

I have tried for four days to get him into a shelter, made dozens of phone calls and I just can't find him any help. For now, I am still trying to find him some help, but it doesn't look good, and I dread telling him that I can't do anything.
This face belies the the tender way he speaks.


Minda said...

You may not see it now but you have ready made a difference just by what you did. You listened and the next time you meet he has a friend who cared enough to speak to him.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Caryl, this is wrong. Life shouldn't be like this. NO ONE should have to live on the street. And NO ONE should have to feel and be unloved.
God bless you for caring. He must have some skills so that someone will be compassionate and hire him.

me again said...

Thank you for sharing this very poignant story. What you did was very kind and I'm sure it likely wasn't easy and wasn't without a bit of worry, at first. I agree; I believe you've already made a difference.