by Patrick O'Brien
“For there will never cease to be poor in the land.
Therefore I command you shall open wide your
hand to your brother, to the needy and to the
poor, in your land.” ~ Deuteronomy 15:11.
“Christ On The Bread-line”
A wood engraving by
Regular readers of my personal Blog will know I’m a homeless hitchhiker, an itinerant who travels the road, exchanging my camera skills for food, water and a place to pitch my tent. The following true story has two parts; the first of Love, and Kindness — contrasted with the second on our selfish Souls.
● Howrah Station, Calcutta:
I’m walking the streets of Kolkata. Barefoot and penniless, just the clothes on my back, carrying a small blanket which I sleep on each night. All that I owned has been stolen or lost. An older Muslim gentleman, sitting on the footpath, calls me over. I hunker down beside him, our backs against a wall. “Welcome to my home,” he says.
Home is a sheet of plastic on a bamboo roofing-frame that’s attached to the wall as an awning. A hole in the wall provides some dim cavity where his wife and children sit.
I spend three days with the man. We sit on the footpath drinking sweet chai and he tells me about the neighbourhood. A steady stream of people come and go, all eager to meet this visitor from a foreign shore. They bring small gifts of food and drink. Occasionally, a chillum’s passed around. At night, I lay out my blanket on the footpath, sleeping under the plastic sheet.
Time comes to leave and the man uses a small knife to cut his plastic sheet in half. With tears in his eyes, he gives it into my possession. “Travel well, my friend,” he says.
I will always remember this man. He had nothing — yet he gave me half his home.
● Queen Street, Auckland:
Auckland’s City Council moves to ban beggars from its streets . . .