Outside Noisy, Inside Empty
The pots, the pans, peking ducks and the people, clash angrily together as the marketeers attempt to persuade passers-by to purchase their produce. Car horns cut across the crowds as they try to traverse the teeming street. Look! Street traders scurry with lanterns and red dragons, firecrackers and fireworks, fabric and sewing equipment, dumplings and chopsticks. The place is alive! It simply buzzes as people power past the vendors, the kissing couples and the laughing children.
It is a sight to see.
Hush. Observe, as the lost, young boy squats in the cleanest, quietest corner he can find, yearning to see the festivities around him. Look closer. Is there anything strange about him? Why is he squatting there? The other children laugh and play, but he only squats and cries. See the sad tears trickle down his cheeks. You see now? Gaze at the boy’s brown hands, clenched closely to his body. What has he got there? What is in his hand? Maybe, if you peer from above, you might catch a glimpse of it! See! He’s opening his hand!
An eye. It’s an eye. And only you can see it; identify it as an eye from a stuffed toy. Have you got it? Look closer - careful! You might scare him away. Place a hand on his shoulder and ask: why have you got the eye from a stuffed toy?
‘Leave me alone!’
Watch him charge through the crowd like an arrow through the air. Take note that he doesn’t dart away from the other children, but ploughs onward, crashing into chicken coops, lanterns and carts. See the other children laugh at him as he trips over a stick. See the street vendors ignoring him and the adults walking past him.
I can hear you thinking. Why does he not elude the black ball flying at him or the white washing that’s waving in the wind? What is wrong with him?
He is blind. Can’t you tell?
He has no heritage. No family. No friends. No hobbies. No belongings. No home. He is an orphan, ostracised all the time. He is alone.
I sense you feel sympathetic. It’s OK. I do too.
Look. He’s left behind his precious eye, its blue pupil contrasting to the black brown mud. Go on, find him. Give it to him. It will make him happy. It will make him smile.
Keep searching. He can only run so far. Shhh! Listen. You can hear him sobbing, shying away from the busy street. Look, there he is, behind the green and red vegetable cart. See him rocking on his heels, distressed, depressed. Go on, you can do it.
‘Excuse me, did you lose this?’
See him pay no attention. He’s not being rude; he just doesn’t know you’re talking to him. You place a hand on his shoulder and feel him flinch at your touch.
‘Excuse me, did you lose this?’
Look at his tear-stained face, his blank, blue eyes boring into your soul. Feel as his hands grasp your jacket and arm. You help him to the blue eye in your cold hand. Hey! You see him smile!
‘Yes, yes thank you, oh thank you, thank you!’
Watch him bounder and bounce around the corner. See, he is smiling! Look at his yellow teeth, his happy smile! I told you! Ask him, go on! You’re doing so well!
‘Do you have a home?’
This catches you by surprise. You did not expect that answer. Neither did I.
‘Would you like me to take you there?’
He searches for your hand. Swish, swash, swish, swash. His hand glides through the air as a bird in the sky. He holds it out only for you. Now you’re smiling.
You and he go hand in hand as you parade triumphantly through the street. Business men scorn you. Street vendors glare at you. The lantern’s flame flickers when you walk past and the soothing zephyr feels cold against your skin. You pay no attention. For the moment, the child is happy and smiling, like he has been blessed with good fortune. You would do anything to keep him happy, I think.
Listen. He’s giving you directions: ‘And when you get to the place where it smells like burning, then you turn to the way where there isn’t a wall. I think that’s the opposite way to the man who sells sweet smelling things. And then when you get to the lumpy ground and the place where a lot of dogs bark, you turn towards the old woman who says, “Come here, child, I’ll give you a fortune cookie.” And then, when you hear a lot of children playing, that’s where I live.’
Methodically, meticulously, you follow his instructions, as he leads you through the busy streets to a gloomy orphanage where children play, laugh, sing, clap, dance, skip and draw. A woman approaches you, clearly concerned about the child that you have found. She runs to the child:
‘Oh, I’m so glad you’re safe, Xiao-Tan! We’ve been looking everywhere for you!’
‘I found him crying in the main street.’
The woman glowers at you, like you have just kidnapped the child. ‘He wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for you!’ she retorts, as she hurries the child away.
It is true. For I know who you are.
And in my opinion, you should be ashamed of being ashamed that you have a blind son.
By Luke Baweja