Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What a nightmare human life can be

I live in a small but very comfortable ground floor flat. I have a washing machine, a fridge, an oven, heating, running hot and cold water, electricity and all the other modern comforts of the modern world. Every night I sleep in a cozy bed. I have food. However there is a woman about 50 meters away from my flat who lives in a shed, with no heating, electricity, running water, just plain shed a place to sleep in.

I don't know her story, however she looks like she's been like this for a while, one of my neighbours let her use the shed, which as crazy it may seem, in my opinion, was very kind.

I saw her for a while almost everyday. I did not know how to approach her or how could I help her. However my comforts made me feel guilty. Even though I am working hard to stay afloat.

Few days back some woman was shouting at her, because a stray dog, that she looks after and shares the little food she's got with, has been accused of attacking another dog. Which of course was untrue, but it was a good opportunity, for somebody who needed to get rid of all their negativity. The poor woman stood there frozen on the spot, Tarzan (that's what she calls the dog) next to her, with tears in her eyes. I went up to her and asked her if she was OK. I know, a stupid question, but I had to do something! She told me about the accusations and I tried to calm her down, however, she just wanted to shrink away and hide in her shed, which she did.

I went home and made a thermos flask full of milky and sweet coffee. Went back to the woman, and told her, she can keep the thermos, and every time she wants a hot drink, she just has to knock on my kitchen window.
She blessed me about hundred times, and it was bringing tears to my eyes, she should have blessed herself, that's what I told her. She dismissed my comment with her hand.

Two days later, after eagerly waiting for the knock on the window, nothing. I went to see her, she gave me the thermos flask back, and told me not to worry about. She also told me she couldn't open the flask...

Last night I kept a piece of hot meatloaf for her, but when I went to look for her, I couldn't find her. Later I looked again she was in her shed and I did not dare to knock and disturb her. She is embarrassed of her shed, of my attention, of her existence. Earlier she offered me some books, the ones she sells in the market to earn some money. I couldn't take them.

She's never drunk. Alcohol clearly wasn't the thing that brought her down. I would like to invite her in, but I fear of humiliating her further. I want to help, yet financially I am in a very humble situation, but if I had a job, and wrote two articles a week. One weeks pay for articles would rent her a small room, and supply her with food. Once she was clean she could get a job as a cleaner and could earn for a reasonably comfortable life. Yet I fear that it may be wrong, that I am only thinking this, because of my discomfort about her situation and not hers.

I wanted to write about her for three days, but I couldn't find the words, now it's written, I see my words are way too weak to express her situation or what I feel. I can't believe people can be so ignorant of other people's pain. Especially when the person is under their nose.


Richard said...

It is sad.

When I was younger, I used to believe that people suffered temporary setbacks or were victims of circumstance, yet if given a chance, and a helping hand was offered to them, they would soar to greatness.

I still want to believe that.

However, my experience is that people are who they are and sort of find their own level in life and stay there (people who come by large sums of money, say by winning a lottery, very quickly end up spending their money and end up back where they started). I don't want it to be true. I want to believe that every person is capable of greatness and just needs a little help to achieve it, but ...

Pumpkin Pie said...

That is sad. It is only natural that you would want to help her.

In Strasbourg, people tried to help homeless men off the streets. In an interview one of the men said that he was free on the streets and that he did not want an apartment or what we consider a normal life because it was not free.

However, it is hard to see someone living alone and in a shed on top of it.

I think you should continue being kind to her but let her have her space and open up to you in her own time under her conditions.

jayant said...

Hi Carra!

I can to a large extent, feel what you have felt because I've been through that situation innumerable times.It was at a time when I was 10 yrs old and I couldn't even think of doing anything about the person. It has happened with me day in and day out. One moment, you feel like going and helping the person out in whichever way you want to. The other moment, you think of so many adversities that it might cause.

I bow to you for taking time out and posting this. Good that you tried to help as well. She might have felt humiliated but then you did what you felt the best.

Its sad but true, that we have to carry on living with our comfortable lifestyles, watching these people around, feeling sorry for them, occasionally helping them out but then, you can't change her/his destiny, can you?

Some facts of life are cruel..

b said...

Oh, it is so wonderful that you reached out to her. Despite the discomfort that it may have seemed to evoke, your kindness undoubtedly touched her heart. But her pride is great is and I think you appreciate that. Just extending that kindness, that sincerity... was a huge act and we must accept that we cannot impose our will on others. We can only give freely and with compassion, not expecting any particular response.

Bijou salon said...

You're a wonderful person carra, you should be proud...can you write her a note? sometimes it is easier to express your heart in writing, so they have to read and not stop you from speaking your heart?

good luck!

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