Why they are who they are –The smiling effect


–      Charlie Chaplin

Light up your face with gladness, Hide every trace of sadness.

Although a tear may be ever so near, That’s the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what’s the use of crying. You’ll find that life is still worthwhile,

If you just smile.

As I looked out the window of the car I couldn’t help but ponder. Why was I different from them? I was dressed differently, I spoke fluently, and I had good manners. But then again, I didn’t learn to be this way by myself. I was nurtured in the right environment. To clear my mind, I decided to have a talk with one of them when my Mum got out of the car to get us our fast food orders.

“What’s your name?” I asked.”Joseph,” he said shyly. He looked almost my age. There was a stench in the air, but that really didn’t bother me. “Joseph, where are your parents?” I asked. “I don’t have any. I live with my son here,” he said pointing to the veranda of a store nearby where a child sat, staring at me like I was from another planet. I thought to myself, it was nothing new nowadays to hear of children bringing forth children. “You live in front of a shop? So where are your belongings? Do you sleep here every night?” I asked with so much curiosity. “Belongings you say, I have just three things. This knife, this umbrella I stole from a lady, and this.” He showed me a newspaper cutout of a pilot standing in front of his plane. “I want to be like him! One day I will fly, fly fly.” This boy owned only three items; I had on me at that moment my bag with my iPod in it, a pair of sunglasses, my Rolex watch, jewellery and some money. Those things really didn’t matter because most were just accessories; you and I could certainly do without them. I was blessed. I was in a well fitted pair of trousers, long enough to cover my long, beautiful legs and protect them. I had on a cotton blouse to keep me comfy. I had a jacket on, which could keep me warm if the heavens decided to open up. I had on also a pair of fashionable toms; needless to say I had one in every colour. These were things of importance, clothing! Joseph and his son had on tattered clothes and unsightly scars on their bodies. I bet if he had my clothes, he’d be one of the happiest people in the world. I lived in a two storey house, well furnished, and I was lucky enough to have a room all to myself. Security was always assured; I had two, huge Alsatian dogs ready to take the offensive on any suspicious person, and a watchman who would alert me of any looming danger. Joseph and his son sadly, had no stable place of abode. They hopped from shop to shop each night to find a place to lay their heads. That knife he owned was his only source of security.  Ever wonder why so many of these street children are armed with such harmful instruments? They have no choice but to protect themselves. Joseph’s source of motivation was that newspaper cutout. I was amazed that someone who owned nothing that was of importance to me could still have zeal to live life. He could still smile each day because he had a dream. Yes a dream, only just a dream. It would be a miracle if that dream was made a reality. I had the whole world at my fingertips. Internet, books, a good school I attended, and sophisticated devices to make life easier and comfortable. From further probing, I learnt that Joseph’s Dad died in prison due to overcrowding and unhealthy living conditions. His father was in there for selling drugs. His Mum died when she was hit by a speeding drunken truck driver. Joseph was twenty years of age, and he had his son, four years ago. Obviously this was unplanned, but living as a street child with no education, you’d hardly know the difference between right and wrong, because wrong is presumably right most of the time. Honestly it’s not their fault THEY ARE WHO THEY ARE. Circumstances made them that way.

My Mum made her way back. The aroma of the food had filled the inside of the car. “Mum, is it okay if I gave my order to him?” They were famished you could easily tell, and fervently the smiles that formed on their faces had made my day. I got back in the car and off I was to my home sweet home. I had put smiles on two faces. That was enough to satisfy my hunger, besides unlike them I owned a fridge at home.

12 thoughts on “Why they are who they are –The smiling effect

  1. Elsie, your gift of writing draws the reader right into the scene……keep being a tool through which God can touch lives…….also, thanks for following my blog……..Kim


  2. I’m speechless. Many at times I find it difficult to approach the people by the roadside, let alone find out their story. Elsie, thanks for letting me know that they too have lives and dreams and that i can help them achieve them, in my own small way.


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