• Ralph Black

The Dark Side

Updated: May 8, 2019

There is a man who sits on the side of the road with a cast on his leg and a look of absolute despair.

Another man sits by the side of the subway with his three legged dog, always affectionately petting the pup and wrapping him in a blanket.

A woman with a disproportionately arched back named Joe can usually be seen asking for help and for change in an almost desperate, aggressive manner. She hunches over and her face is wizened, but when she smiles she becomes a completely different person.

One fellow sits against a post outside a library scribbling furiously in the free newspapers, working to solve the crossword puzzle.

There was a man on the tube asking for change and giving up quickly when everyone averted their eyes; he sat down and began angrily muttering to himself and to anyone who would listen, reeking of things I do not want to know.

I have to wonder how each person got to where they are. Did they start there? How far do you have to fall before you can no longer get up? Before any hope or chance at improvement in your life is lost? Usually, I ask them. Sometimes the government screws them over when they have too many children and just large enough of a paycheck not to qualify for care. Sometimes it's by choice, interestingly. Some people want to know what life free of commitment and responsibility is like. Some people are just abandoned, from beginning to end or somewhere in between. Maybe they were born into it and don't know how to leave. The possibilities are as endless as the people we choose to forget.

How is it that while people flock the streets of London in their Gucci coats and their Tiffany & Co earrings, the people begging for help at their feet can barely provide a meal for themselves? This has been the start of my experience of the city of London (not my only one, mind). I am finding it very hard to handle, because when there are people discarded like this you forget that they are human. You forget that they have stories and pains and loves just like the rest of us and they just become a nuisance. When they become that person you try to avoid when getting money at the ATM. It's not right. There were people who didn't want to get money out of the ATM because of this woman standing by it asking for money. But how hard is it to just give her a few pounds? To just give her the knowledge that she's still a part of humanity? I don't understand. It hurts to see forgotten ghosts of personalities standing at the edge of existence waiting for something to happen, having no say in their lives any more and living off of what we will spare. Not what we can spare, just what we will spare. And anytime I see someone like that, I feel guilty for all I have, and all that I get to enjoy. I have talked to my friends about this, and they always say that I shouldn't, but how can I not?

My classmates told me at one point that I should bide my time until I can help them more, and I think they're right. But that doesn't mean I should forget that every little thing helps. It's so easy to ignore the helpless, but I hope I am strong enough to work past that and help anyway.

Oh the things London can teach you!

Reference for the Cover Photograph:

Mahmood, Syed. “Living on the Streets: Homeless in London.” YouTube, YouTube, 15 June 2014, Accessed 05 May, 2019.

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