Ms. Regin Chow (Outreaching Supervisor)
The messy grey hair was just like scattered rendered memories. Hearts sorrowed, but could no one tell if the sorrow was for the wandering waiting Pao, or for the lonely child who grew up in struggles.
Few years ago, I watched a movie, Father and son. In the story, the father was impulsive and idling without doing any work, he destroyed the family. His wife married to another man and his son, who was with him, is forced to live a life to shun from the creditors. The father raised the son in the way he thought was the best for him, yet when the two was helpless, the son stole a watch from his classmate’s home for tempura resolution – and this marked the beginning of his life as a theft. When the son was finally caught, the father left him alone. The reunion was in the jail cell, where the son loosed his temper, bit the father’s ear while crying. This was when the father realized how much his son had suffered, the pain, despair, and resentment. The son grew up deciding not to be anyone like his father. He went back to return the first watch he’d stolen, at the same time thinking of the good old times with his father. Knowing his father was still alive, he looked from afar at the old man who once bought him endless suffer, but also the childhood memory, when they were both on the same bike, and he leaned against his father’s back, singing along the way and picking wild flowers. How ironic! Just like Shakespeare said, all the world’s a stage! How many more fathers and sons are stuck in this tough situation!
“Brother Pao, it is so cold out here, your feet are all dried and cracked. Please remember to use the medicine I gave you last time!”
“ Why wouldn’t you wear the pair of wool socks?”
“Oh, I’ve been using it! Just not know where I’ve put it for now! I don’t really like that color.”
“ But you said you wanted black ones last time!”
“I wanted grey!”
“ Alright! I’ll buy you grey ones next Tuesday, wear the black ones for the time being!”
Under the dim light, Pao’s eyes lighted up and he smiled with a sense of satisfaction, as if this short moment of warmth and love could have compensated the pain and hope deep down in his heart. I’ve witnessed numerous beautiful scenes like these in my past years; at the allays, round the corner of the staircases, in public washrooms, under footbridge, inside a truck, up on the rooftop, in the sitting-out area… even the darkness corner of the city or in the middle of the crowded city center. All these years I’ve been asked, what could one do to “help” these street sleepers get out of this situation; I find it funny that I never come up with a satisfying answer. Yet, a simple greeting, a pair of listening ears, correspondent responses, and a sincere heart, will sure help compensate these lonely wanderers from all the pain and hopelessness they’ve been through. We could still prove to them within the short encounter that there are still love and dreams.
During the Chinese New Year, Pao was missing for almost a month. We later knew that he had a stroke and was in the hospital, and due to his poor physical condition, he was sent to an Elderly Home. Meeting him again, he was thinner than he was, and lost that spirit in his eyes. Regardless of suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Pao still hangout by the parks around Nam Cheong Street and Pei Ho Street. According to the staff in the elderly home, Pao only go back to the elderly home once every two or three day. Every time he went back, he seemed exhausted. Was it because he was used to life like that? Or was he still hoping his beloved one would show up there someday? That he worried if he left, that place would…or if there was ever this day, when the child look from afar and spotted this old, exhausted, yet still wandering father, he would have recall the good old time they shared!
That familiar story, that familiar character, still touches everyone’s heart. And for the Father who have been there for us for thousands of years, He still holds His arms open, awaits to hug His wandering, exhausted son! We pray the two exhausted wanders will find their way home and be embraced by the loving Father.