A grungy heap of sorrow with doe eyes asked me for some money tonight. She needed somewhere to stay. The girl must have been in her late teens or early twenties; the night’s shadow made it impossible to discern.
When no is else is around, strangers become humans and harder to ignore. It’s funny how the pneumatic roar of traffic and pedestrians render the most vulnerable into a passing blur.
Frost was biting my cheeks and the girl looked desperate for warmth. I had been at the cinema and was walking home along an empty concrete aisle to my friend’s apartment in Stepney Green.
It’s cold and desolate here after Christmas, populated only by abandoned cars and stragglers in chicken shops. I can’t speak favourably of the area – it’s depressing and ugly even during the summer months.
I began shuffling in my pockets and found some loose change. I didn’t even know I was carrying any. Embarrassed by the meagre amount, I gave her about 37p and said that was all I had on me and she replied “I’ll take anything you have”, but I was lying to her. My wallet was burning with greed.
As she walked across the road, I felt a pang of self-disgust and put a tenner in her hand. Her eyes widened in astonishment and she said “God bless you” in a soft cockney accent and I felt horrible for not giving it to her earlier.
The cruelty of London hit me as I entered the landing. How many times do you just walk away like I did? Say nothing or pretend you have no money on you. I couldn’t stop crying as I stepped inside the kitchen. Switching the lights on, the artificial heat smothered my cheeks and my phone vibrated with an emoji smile.
Looking out the window towards the city, I realised I should do more for people. Kindness is all we have when God wrought to make this world so sad.