Monday, June 26, 2006

Windows to the Soul

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Driving and walking down the streets of Addis I often feel the pressure of eyes on me. Clean, healthy, comfortable. That’s me. I cross the street, or glance out of the window of a car as a big orange and red anbesa bus goes past. People crammed inside without room to move gaze at me intently, inquisitively, wondrously. I wonder what they’re thinking of me while they’re stuffed inside the stiflingly hot bus. Are the envious, curious, hateful? Am I just another person in the backdrop of their day? I know that I sound conceited and self-absorbed, but I never feel like people are simply indifferent when they see me. They observe me, but I don’t know why. Their eyes seem to be searching me, but I don’t know what for.

It’s frustrating to not always have answers, but I prefer not knowing the thoughts flickering behind those gazing strangers’ eyes than to understand the sadness their eyes sometimes fail to shield. There are times when a man will be selling something on the side of the road, puppies or beautiful wooden structures, which catch your eye. Your gaze lingers on his merchandise, and you can see him perk up, mentally straightening his tie, at the sight of a prospective customer. Heylo, heylo he calls to you as he waves his hands. How much does his little gadget probably cost, 20, 50, 100 birr? That’s nothing to you, but he lives day-to-day, and that 20, 50, 100 birr helps him get through today. Usually it’s just not worth it, you don’t have the time to take care of a puppy, you already have a dog, you’re leaving Ethiopia in a month, and so you just smile politely and shake your head no. You dismiss the item that caught your attention, and you will dismiss him as well, but as your eyes shift away from that man you catch a quick glimpse of the subtle transformation that sweeps across him. Most things are fairly hard to notice: his shoulders slump a bit as he sighs, he irritably kicks a stone, he fretfully clenches his jaw. It’s his eyes that are most telling, because now they fail to shield his sadness and disappointment. He longingly watches as you drive on down the bumpy road to your $15,000 a year school, and remains standing there on the side of the road with his merchandise in hand.

2 comments:

enaseb said...

it gives prespective on the just-left-my-boring-life-in-Walnut Creek-for-more-adventure panhandlers on Telegraph don it?

Anonymous said...

Sara G. You are so smart and thoughtful of other human beings around you. Many do not ponder upon the misfortune of others. Yet you have pondered with your heart, you have pondered with your pen on hand. The kingdoms of today shall pass away and bring in a more just and truthful kingdom. We pray each day, Let your kingdom come. We give a tithe of 10 % to help others, yet we often forget to fulfill our parts to help the needy among us. God bless you for sharing deeply what you felt, what you saw of failing hopes and spirits, failing faith and dreams, failing health and defeats than victory, yet there is a streak of hope despite all the failures. Thank you Samra G. God Bless.
Michael M. Mississauga, ontario, Canada