I was walking in an isolated street outside my favorite bakeshop as a child and saw a mother with her son under a lamppost across the street. Since this area is being avoided because of its shabbiness, it’s only me, the mother and son, a pair of two shadows approaching the street plus a man in worn out clothes. I took a moment to contemplate about people and how they walk the grounds of the earth. I had a sudden black out because my thoughts overflown and overtaken my senses
The only thing that made me realized I was staring blankly to to the wall is the voice of the mother telling his son to “study very well coz if you don’t you’ll end up like him”. I saw the person she was pointing and that was the man in shabby clothing. That gut feeling I felt was inexplicable. I saw the man covered his face with the sack of garbage he was holding because of shame and self pity. The little boy laughs and told his mother “never will I pick someone’s trash for me to live mom.” The mother keep on telling her son what to do with his life until the pair of shadows I saw minutes ago became a pair of human walking towards the man. It was another pair of Mother and son tandem.
I overheard the other son that he’ll give his burger to someone. His mother asked him “Isn’t that your favorite burger?” the son replied “yes mom, but it might be someone’s favorite too if I share it to them and after that, I’ll welcome them to the burger lovers club I founded in school”. Without hesitation, the boy run towards the man and handed the burger to him. He smiled brightly while the man hesitantly reach for the food. “Thank you but you should stay away from me because I smell like a dog” but instead of doing so, the boy smiled at him and said “see you later and enjoy your burger”. I felt warmness in my heart because the boy has a good one. “Johnny, if you want to help those people, you should study hard for you make a better place for them to live in.” With warmness in the mother’s eyes, the son lean in to her and thank his mom for being great.
Both pairs left, leaving me with lessons to live by. I’m in my mid-twenties and yet, the good boy shamed me with his kindness that I, myself don’t even have. I noticed that I’m still standing at the back of the bakeshop. An hour here at Benign Street is very unusual because there’s not a lot of people stays here. They cannot take the eeriness of the place. I walk home alone and ever since that day, I change my ways.
Today, year 1864, thirty years after I saw the two pairs of people who showed different sides of human at Benign St., I walked pass a stall of an old man who sells burger when a girl dressed in rag clothing approached him. Mouthing the words “I’m starving, can I have some?” the man smiled and gave her one with soda. The girl didn’t thanked the man but instead she rushed to the corner to give the food to her little sisters. I told myself, “Am I gonna witnessed another act of kindness at this very street where my life has been turned upside down?” but I didn’t have to answer my question because it shows. The old man left his stall and walked towards the girls. He handed three burgers and three sodas. Those girls told him to stay away from them because they smell like a dead cat but instead of doing so, the man smiled at them and gave them hug. “You should always do good and stand up to people no matter what it costs you”. The girls doesn’t seem to mind because they must really starving that they only pay attention to what they are eating. The man went back to his stall. One thing I noticed is that everything here has changed. From the old shabby bricked walls and trucks of garbage, everything is not what it looks like thirty years ago. The bakeshop is no longer erected there but instead, I saw an orphanage and a restaurant.
A man dressed in formal suit with necktie is holding his seven-year old kid which I presume his daughter. They went out of the resto and the kid asked his dad what are the three kids doing there. She’s referring to the kids in ragged clothes. The father said “Their parents must have not studied well that is why they end up having kids like them. Do you want to be like them Ashely? Mother always told me that if you study hard, you will never be like the people in the streets.” I was disgusted by what the father told his daughter. Suddenly, it was thirty years ago, it all came back to me when I saw two pairs of parents and a man in worn out clothes. Same scenario, same place. It is like I am experiencing Deja Vu. I’m standing on this very ground where I witnessed it all in my mid-twenties. That moment, I thought that what is the root will be the seed and that the mentality of the roots will be the mentality of the seed.
But I was wrong. I prejudged the kid.
“But daddy, my English teacher always told us to study very well to make this world a better place to live in, to make this world a little less harsh for other people who are less fortunate.” Likewise her father, that kid left me in awe. That little voice made a huge impact to me and again, I felt hope.
I saw a man with a kid, I bet he is his son for he has his eyes and his thick hair. Ashley as what her dad called her let out a big smile when she saw the man I saw with his kid. She quickly run towards the man and said “Look daddy he is my teacher. His name is Johnny.” Johnny and Ashley’s dad shook hands and said “we need to go, nice meeting you by the way”. The man left with the girl while Johnny went straight to the burger stall. They smiled at each other as if they knew each other for a long time. Johnny said “This is my son. Jimmy, say hello to my old pal.” The kid quickly reach his hand to shake hands with the old man. Like his dad, he’s a gentle young man with a compassionate heart. Again, I remember me, being astonished with what I have seen thirty years ago. It’s clear to me now, that those people are the ones I have seen thirty years ago. I may have missed their whole lives but at least, I’ve seen a few.
The time has its own stories and it so happens that I’ve been a part of their story. Like a fool, I smiled in the corner and told myself this:
“Not everything is based on what we have seen or what we remember seeing for the first time that made our senses reactivated, shut and reactivated again. As cliche’ as it can be, judging a person based on what the iris of the eyes sent to the cells of our brain is sometimes dysfunctional. We should look at those lives using our soul and heart and never to neglect people just because they are not like you. In order to make this world better, it should start with you.”
I was talking to myself about my reflections today. I put out my journal which contains remarkable life events and not just the everyday journal that has the name of my 5th grade crush or the date my favorite dog died. There, I wrote hundreds of essays about my humdingers in life. This book is my life. I’ve got used to writing while walking or everywhere if I have a chance.
Someone interrupted Jimmy while reading the notebook. It was Ashley, only 25 years older.
“Jimmy, are you reading same the story again to our kids? You should go out and entertain our customers.” asked Ashley
“It is. But the owner of that journal is dead. Isn’t it right to turn over it to her family?”
“It says here,’this is my whispers to the world and whoever heard it, they can have this’ It’s our story, your mothers’ too and our fathers'”
Before they could continue arguing, one of their three kids ask Johnny “So Daddy, what happened next?”
“This is not my story to tell but we are a part of her life, so was she. She died of car accident twenty five years ago. Me and my dad saw everything. I remember her last word was ‘Then…’ while holding her pen. It was a fine day at Benign street, the place where it all started and the place where she found her peace. Remember that our lives are connected with each other and you may not notice it but every single soul is a chance. I am you before I got older, you’ll become me, just better. Our layers will become whole, our limbs will reach others unconsciously.”
1334 Benign Street where everything is just unexpected;everything is coincidence.
Jimmy kept the journal and watched the people walk passed the restaurant he inherited from his father Johnny. He then looked at the signage that hasn’t been changed through the years, it says “1334 Benign Street Turn Left.”