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"The Ten Mouthfuls"

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It’s been several months since this incident occurred, yet, in my heart of hearts, I feel compelled to write about it. Don’t think that I’m a writer, I’m not. Actually, I’m homeless. Nonetheless, even though I’m not a writer, and even though I’m homeless. I feel confident that I can compose this story in such a way… that even the most callous person will be humbled…

 

   It was a cold and wet winter weeknight, and I was miserable. The wind chill made it feel like minus twenty. Manhattan streets were so devoid of passersby that it felt like a scene out of ‘Escape from New York’.  So, of course panhandling didn’t pan out this night. Pardon the pun. Despite the negatives, I continued my hustle into the early morning hours. By 3am though, the wind, and cold made me a believer.  And, I started walking towards Penn Station before I froze to death. My route would be the same, walk along 8th Ave taking in the all too familiar boring buildings, and businesses. Only this morning, I would be walking at a much faster pace. I got to the large subway gratings alongside Penn Station, and did as I always did. Instead of walking across them, I stepped to my left, and maneuvered around them…

 

   Surprisingly, the escalator wasn’t working. So, I walked down the two short flights. On past the Plexiglas enclosed area I walked until I came to second set of escalators in what I’ll call the foyer. This is the area that I sleep in, right under the escalator. Going to sleep in Penn Station is an exercise in trepidation, and calm. There’s trepidation because there’s always the cops bothering us. Then, there’s the occasional demented homeless person, and teenagers looking for trouble.  You have to be calm because. It might take time to fall asleep, just from the stresses of being homeless alone. Finally after opening my eyes to any noise, real or imagined, I fell into a fitful rest…

 

  Hunger pains jolted me awake at 8am. I was elated, and quite shocked that I got to sleep for almost five hours. What was disheartening was the fact that I would have to pound the pavement panhandling in the gelid, early morning air. Then, there was my hunger, which by now was too profound to ignore. If it’s true that a person’s stomach speaks to them when they’re hungry, mine was speaking to me in ten different languages at once. Still under the escalators, I put my arms above my head, and stretched. Then, I scanned the ground around me, making sure that my precious, few belongings were still there. And, that’s when I saw it! Sitting next to my leg was a Styrofoam container….you know the type you get when ordering from a fast food Chinese restaurant…

 

   Just thinking about what culinary delights the container held had my mouth watering. I looked around nervously, as if someone might come, and claim their food. When I was certain that I was just being paranoid, I picked up the container, and opened it expectantly. Well, my happiness soon dissolved into despair. The sumptuous feast I hoped to find was nothing more than several, miserable mouthfuls. I actually stated to cry thinking about the creep, who was probably laughing somewhere with morbid pleasure over leaving a homeless person a corner of food. My first intention was to throw the container against the escalator wall. A cooler head prevailed though, and I opted for a gentler recourse.  I merely pushed the tray a few inches from me. And, then I started to brood. When I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I made the motions as if I were about to stand up.  But, my reality brought me back to reality if you understand my meaning. My reality was that I was still hungry. The reality beyond my hunger was that the tray with its exiguous contents was still on the floor….

 

   I turned to my right, and sneered at the tray. Nonetheless, my decision was made. I picked up the tray, opened it, and shoveled two spoonfuls into my mouth. My stomach was so relieved to finally be getting some attention that my eyes closed in remembrance. I remembered the look of sheer bliss on Tom Hank’s face in the movie ‘Castaway’ when he speared that fish, cooked it, and took that initial taste. Only one word could describe the look of Tom Hanks eating after being bereft of real food for so long?  Priceless….

 

  I opened my eyes, and got ready to eat some more of the Middle Eastern dish of spicy rice, grilled chopped chicken, vegetables, and white sauce…But, it was all gone. I guess during my reverie I unknowingly continued to eat. With the anger all, but gone, and the hunger pains subsided, I leaned back against the escalator wall, and drifted into thought. After pondering several, long minutes, I knew that I had learned a valuable lesson from this experience. I realized that this wasn’t about the food, or lack thereof. It wasn’t even about the person who left it. It was about me being homeless, and having very little, about me receiving even les than a little in that Styrofoam tray. In retrospect though, those few mouthfuls were probably more gratifying than any feast I could’ve possibly ever imagined. Because on that day, yes, at that moment in my sojourn through this life. I learned to be Thankful for even the smallest of Blessings….The Lesson of The Ten Mouthfuls…..

 

 

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COMMENTS

 

prettygirl23 says:

Deep!
 

Poetiq1der says:

Peace and God's Blessings to you and yours...Thank you Sister for the love....

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