It has been long I promised my grandma to take her to the center for a walk, and never found time. Particularly she wanted to see Cascade, because she hadn’t been there for years. This must be funny, because my grandma is one of those few native Yerevantsis and whenever she happens to pass by “Khnko Apor” library she always repeats that their house was right in place of that library and she lived there up to her 23s before getting married and moving to one end of the city. And though my grandma is a wonderful woman this entry is not going to be about her.
Well, I was waiting at Tamanyan statue to meet my grandma. She was being late. A small aged man with a pitiful expression of face, with only 4 front teeth and carrying a big bag approached a girl waiting next to me.
“I want it for food. I need food. For bread, I need money for bread!”, – he was repeating. The girl turned her back and moved aside. The man followed her. The girl came back, the man after him, and for a moment he stood right in front of me. He looked at me and said nothing. His eyes were full of desperation that I thought he was about to cry. I never met him here before, because beggars usually do not change their places, as it is distributed among their membership, no kidding, once I witnessed how they were having a gathering somewhere close to Cascade and their boss was giving commands. And in general, is it only me thinking that their number is increasing, as I see new faces at every corner now? However, I might be wrong, and he might be one of “local” beggars, but I didn’t mind anyways.
– What do you want? – I asked.
– I will buy bread for you.
– We are 8 in the family, we don’t have rice and oil. Will you buy rice?
– No, I will buy one bread.
– One? For 8 people?? (Yeah, he was impudent. Actually they all are, and that’s what I don’t like in them).
– I will buy two.
At that moment two of those guys always gathered around the statue came up as if to drink water and one of them stinking with beer said. “Aayy papi jan, what do you want from this girl, leave her alone…”. I stopped him with my palm saying that it was me talking to the man. They couldn’t expect it. The guy obviously got bewildered, turned to his friend and repeated my words. Guess it was my interesting hat which made them “rescue” the little girl from that grandfather, who they actually kept on ignoring. Think they’d try to understand why I kept on talking to him. It would never occur to them, would it? Why not? I saw no reason not to talk to him…
I suggested the old man to have a walk and talk, meanwhile I’d buy him the promised 2 loaves of bread.
– So, you say you are eight, who are they? And none of you works?, – I started
– My wife, children, my daughters in law, my grandchildren… They hardly make both ends meet.
– You keep your family by bagging?
– Noo, I go out for food.
– What do you have in your bag?
– Nothing… Do you want to see? (he opened it and I noticed some dirty fabrics and some dry lavash under it)
– Why don’t your sons work at some construction?
– They went, but no one took them, said they had no vacant places.
– Plenty of construction is going in the city and there is no place???
– I’m not lying. I don’t like when people lie. You know, I have never smoked, never drunk, I don’t like it, it’s bad, it’s harmful. (How did he guess that I don’t like it as well?! 😉 ) I’ve toiled out since childhood, but now I don’t have rice…oil…
I didn’t want to insist that probably his sons are lazy or used to not working and prefer sleeping to bothering themselves. Even wanted to suggest a work, but hesitated later. Once my dad told how he offered a homeless who would spend his whole day at a garbage dump to work at a construction, he’d be paid and given food for every day. But the homeless refused saying that he preferred his careless life at the dump. Whereas my little brother works at a construction every summer, painting something, clearing debris and stuff like that, for he knows that he should work if he wants to have something even if he studies at school yet. (He even managed to store money and buy a cell Nokia of a latest model, whereas I’m still going around with my lousy Siemens of 4 years old).
Anyways, we talked a bit more by the time we reached the shop, but unfortunately there was no bread left, only the black ones which were not fresh. I saw him standing at the treshold and listening how the seller said that the black bread was not fresh and you should have seen the expression of his face as if he lost the last hope to have proper bread for that day.
– So what to do, huh? I have to go now, can’t go to another shop with you.
– (He sighed) It’s OK.
– However, I will give you money enough to buy two loaves of bread (I gave him 300 drams).
– I don’t like when people lie, I tell you, I don’t lie, I tell you, it’s not good. Thank you, thank you, take care, thank you!!!
– You take care and make your sons work!!!
On the way back I was thinking whether he thanked me for those petty 300 drams or the attention I paid to him, that someone bothered to ask who he is, that I stopped the guy who was as if protecting me from him. Also I was thinking why he was repeating that he wasn’t lying; for me not to think that he was one of the ordinary beggars who tell thousands of lies to move you? Why? I had already gave him the money. But there was something about him to move me. Or probably at that moment I needed his company more than anyone else’s. After the conversation with him I felt somewhat lighter, though more absorbed in thoughts.
Probably it was me who should have thanked…