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The Home Of

The Homeless

Sophie He

When I became the CEO of a major marketing company, I expected

to look out of my floor-to-ceiling tinted windows and see an endless

expanse of glass skyscrapers, none taller than my own. I’d see the

sunlight winking at the mosaic of office windows and then I’d see my

own smiling reflection in the newly-cleaned windows. But when I

looked out of the dusty windows of the dinghy ground-floor concrete

office, all I saw was the brick wall of an out-of-business milkbar. The

pavement was blanketed by a layer of litter that almost drew away

from the homeless man clinging onto his thread-bare blanket of

hope, soothing his sanity which threatened to slip away with every

passing day. He squatted with his stick-insect legs tucked into his

fragile little bird body, with a square of cardboard next to him,

reading: Hav a Nise Dai. I tossed him a glare every morning, but my

anger seemed to always smack straight into his wall of kindness.

Every morning, I woke up to the scent of freshly-brewed coffees entering the

office building across the road, reminding me of the hot chocolates my mother

used to bring us after a full day of begging on the streets. Those were the days

when the word ‘home’ meant family. Now, home was what I call my trusty old

sleeping bag, pressed against the jagged edges of a sturdy brick wall. As I wiped

the jewels of sleep from my eyes, the office across the road came to life; one by one,

weary-eyed employees were swallowed by the concrete monster, its eyes flickered

open as the blinds recoiled and finally, its stomach began to grumble as the

sound of printers resonated through the crisp morning air. And situated right

next to the mouth of the monster was the office of possibly the richest man in New

York City.

The enormity of the patchwork quilt of bricks almost engulfed

his frail body as the ground beneath his bare feet threatened to do

the same. Fresh graffiti dripped down the wall to meet the weeds

sprouting from cracks in the sidewalk. Above, the sky coughed and

wheezed for air as the weight of winter slowly descended onto the

city. The homeless man’s health was disintegrating, the hunger and

cold was finally catching up to him. But every single day, he still

waved at me though his hands were shaking with cold, he still smiled

at me though his teeth chattered in the stabbing chill of the wind

and he still greeted me though his voice was hoarse from years of

silence. His clothes entertained the possibility of frostbite, his life

was the definition of poverty but his heart knew the true meaning

of happiness.