Describe a contact you have had with some marginalized group (gypsies/ circus people etc). Has it shown you the deficiencies of your own world view?
I’m walking along the bustling streets of Parramatta. The night air is crisp, and I can feel the cold tugging on the tip of my nose. There’s a food festival, a celebration of cultures, and there are people everywhere.
I am on a date, and we’ve stopped for ice cream. He’s a local tattooist, and has a rich swagger in his gait and ink lining his flesh from his fist to his chest. You can’t tell under all the clothes, but you can see his daughter’s name scrawled under his left eye-socket, and the triangle of three inky dots on the top of his right cheek. He’s loud, and familiar with his surroundings, and a lady approaches us.
She recognises him, of course. Her in her tattered and thinning shirt, speaking in her slanted Italian english. I remember her eyes mostly, the way they dropped at the edges and only shone when the lights above us flashed onto them. No shoes on her feet. Hair clipped short but ragged.
She is asking him how he has been, and he is asking her if she is hungry, if she’s eaten that day yet. He hands her some money and she hesitates. Looks down at the ground. Takes it grudgingly.
“You are angel.” she says, lips lifting slightly.
Then, she shuffles away, her feet dragging as she wades under the glow of the McDonald’s glow.
“She was rich, you know.” we turn our backs from her and walk towards the stalls of fresh pide and fairy floss, “Her and her husband owned an Italian restaurant. It was really successful. Then he died suddenly, and none of it was left in her name. So, she lost it all.”
I prodded him further, asking him how he knew this, curious by the intricacies of this woman’s life.
“I sat with her one day.” he shrugs, “Now, I try to talk to her whenever I see her.”
A woman, who once sat inside the seams of society, who thrived within its confines, now stuck on the marginalised edges, with no home and no family.
I think about her every time I visit that corner of Parramatta, and it reminds me to carry gratitude with me in every possible moment.