In early January, on one of those evenings that cooking seems a stretch and holiday homes are only days away, G and I went down to our Main Street to get some takeaway.
We had the dog (who also needed to get out of the house) and a little bit of grocery shopping to do as well as pick up dinner. We ordered our takeaway from the best noodle house in Rockdale and waited in the pedestrian mall for our food to be cooked.
As we were sitting there, a fellow, who is a rough sleeper, waved hello to us across the way. I waved back, and that was the beginning of our little conversation. He was beaming at us, as I suppose we looked a picture of family contentment, the Mum, the daughter and the dog sitting together in the summer evening.
Next thing he came over and asked a question “Would we like some food?”. He had, in his bag, a packaged Christmas fruitcake, a chocolate cake mix and some arnotts oat biscuits. He really wanted to give us this food, he really wanted us to take the food, and he really wanted us to eat the food. He confessed that he didn’t have a sweet tooth. In fact he confessed to not having very much at all these days. He asked us where we lived (I was was conscientiously vague) and told us that he used to live with his wife on King Street. He told us how his drinking had taken over. He implored us to eat the food, he kept telling me that the food was good, he just wouldn’t eat it. He really wanted to make sure that we would eat it, I assured him that we would have the biscuits with cups of tea, and the fruit cake as well. We told him that G would make the cake and take it to her picnic with her friends the next day. He patted Archie, and told him he was a very good dog. My heart strings were tugged, he was so lovely to us.
I felt like our roles had been reversed. I could’ve been giving him a meal and here he was giving us what little he had to share. We introduced ourselves and I said that I would look out for him around the place.
I took photos to show him when we ate the food that he gave us, and I have been looking out for him for nearly two months now. I do hope that he is safe, and that I do indeed meet him again. I have thought of him often, and hope that he finds the strength needed to change the path he is on. Next time I see him I will show him my photos, and shout him some food.
His generosity has stayed with me. His kindness was so surprising in some ways, and so typical of people in our neighbourhood. Just because he was doing it tough didn’t take that away from him.