Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Lost Soul

Pencho woke up earlier than usual this day. It was a rainy and foggy Monday morning. He was all wet and was shivering under the thorn blanket he was covered with. He had lived in the streets for more than 10 years and was used to it, but this morning he felt a strong feeling of anger and helplessness that he has managed to keep quiet in the last years.
He has been wandering around the dirty and hostile streets of Sofia year after year, moving from one neighborhood to the other, surviving day after day. It would be inaccurate if his existence was called life, it was rather a struggle. He tried to keep his memories from entering his mind, because he knew they would bring him only pain and anger. However, sometimes he couldn’t do anything and the images of his previous life invaded his whole being. He had a wonderful family back in the time, two kids and a beautiful wife. They were still there, somewhere far away from him. He didn’t know what had happened to them.
This morning, he woke up in a dirty corner in Nadezhda, a dark, spooky neighborhood in Sofia. The name means hope, which was painfully ironic in the situation Pencho was in. He knew he had to stand up and go search the garbage-cans for some food, because he hadn’t eaten for more than two days. However, he was sinking in a sea of memories and couldn’t do anything about it. He remembered how he used to go home from work to see his two little daughters and his wife waiting for him, cooking something delicious to surprise their favorite dad and husband. As he remembered it he could feel the warmth of their hugs and the smell of the food coming from the kitchen. He remembered how he and his wife used to stay until late at night just talking about everything. The time was moving so fast in these wonderful moments. He remembered the Christmas cards his daughters made for him, saying “ We love you dad!”. He has been a good father, no matter what situation he was in he treated his daughters with love and gave everything he could to secure their happiness.
At this moment a group of teenagers walked past him talking loudly, and he came back to reality. He kept lying in the corner, wet, hungry and helpless. He closed his eyes and waited for the memories to come back and fill his mind. They came back, but they weren’t the same memories. He saw his two little daughters again, but this time they weren’t happy and cheerful. They were crying in their room quietly, squeezing each other’s hands. The pleasant smell from the kitchen was gone and the lamps all around the house were switched off. Then he saw an image that made his breathing stop for a few seconds. His wife was sitting in the living room holding her head with both hands and crying. She was trembling and whispering something to herself. Pencho tried hard to remember what was the reason for this situation, but he couldn’t. His memories kept projecting in his mind. His wife raised her head and he saw her face. Her left eye was swollen and dark blue, there was blood leaking from the corner of her mouth. Pencho’s heart was filled with anger. “Who did this to my wonderful wife?!” he asked himself and his memories answered as if the question was directed to them. He saw himself coming home late at night, drunk and not able to walk straight. His wife was still awake waiting for him. However, this time he didn’t hug her. Instead, they started arguing and shouting. She slapped him on the cheek and he punched her in the face. He hit her two more times. By that time his two little daughters were woken up by the noise and were screaming:
“Stop, daddy, please stop!”.
Pencho opened his eyes. He didn’t feel anything now. He didn’t feel hungry, cold or wet. He made an attempt to rise, but he didn’t have the strength to do so. He felt tired and sleepy. His eyes began to close and he couldn’t stop them.
“I’m sorry…” - he whispered and a tear slid out of one of his eyes. He took one last breath.
Two men passed by, talking, walking fast with their hands in their pockets; a dog’s barking fused with the noise of the traffic… Another lost soul left this world.

The Best Things in Life

What are the best things in life? Are there universal best things or is that question absolutely individual? It might not sound serious, but I would say that both suggestions are right. However, there is a catch – there are universal best things but it depends on each person’s personal view which of these he sees and in what form.
There is a saying “the best things in life are free”, which is rather optimistic in the world we live in. However, it is very interesting to look at the situation from this point of view. It is not only interesting, this is the real, the humane way of looking at the world. Which are these free things that are so good? That is a basic question, with a basic answer, which is so hard to understand. These free things are actually within us – dreams, love, faith, friendship, honor, trust, sympathy; it’s a long list. Every person develops these virtues ever since he is born. These things can give people pure happiness, a totally non-material happiness. However, in the world we live in, there is not much space, not much time for these beautiful human abilities to develop. Nowadays the material part of the human existence prevails over the spiritual one.
This is the moment where the best things in life aren’t free no more. A common belief among people is that the best things in life can be bought with money. It may sound disturbing to some and normal to others but it is true. Ever since money have become the main source of happiness and a powerful tool for getting the best things in life, the “free” things within us were no longer seen as best. We know they exist but we don’t pay that much attention to them. Many people dedicate their lives on earning and spending money, which is not wrong; the wrong part is that most of these people forget about the virtues within them. Once a person starts finding more happiness in the material part of the world than in the spiritual, humane part, he is lost. There are no best things, there are just material substitutes which offer a temporary relief.
Surely, the purpose of the statements above is not to promote a monk-like living style and approach. In our world, money and material things in general are a source of great pleasure and joy. It is impossible to refuse them or evade them. However, we must never forget about the other side of life, the spiritual one, because it is the source of a type of happiness that is impossible to reach even with all the money in the world. There are many good things you can buy with money, many pleasurable moments you can live through with money, but what you should never forget is that the best things in life are free.