His aura spelled of a bracing formidable substance and he was possessed of strong muscles. But he had always sat on his wheelchair. He was a paraplegic.
He in his white cotton shirt running on his wheelchair amidst the various vehicles on the busy Kalayaan Avenue of the city had become a regular fixture of my rhythmic existence for a number of years. During walks from my son’s school to my house as part of my workout, I would catch sight of him and witness with awe and some concern the routine plus the perils he’d undergo while completing his daily mission.
No idea of his history. His aloof stance denoted zero probability you’d ever catch him smiling or look at faces or acknowledge anyone around him. With his head partially inclined downward – perhaps to avoid any interaction — his gaze seemed focused only on the floors of the lanes ahead.
Several summers rolled by, I spotted him one day sweeping past our school building while on my way to work. He looked very much the same. Just like before, his eyes were solely fixed on the ground. I decided to cross the street to meet his direction.
“Good morning!” I greeted with zest.
He didn’t respond; neither did his head move. He could have been surprised by my deed although he showed no signs of it and simply kept spinning the wheels of his chair. I watched him continue his way down the road.
Surely many others who encountered the man had felt the same way I did. Pity, yes, I couldn’t deny. But it was my admiration for his spirit that won out; I had resolved to let him know one more soul had been recognizing his being.
Weeks had passed when I saw him again from a distance at the same spot. Once more, I aimed to navigate along his path and proceeded to repeat the gesture of greeting him. To my delight, that time around he made a quick glance with an amenable face to say “good morning” to me too. The day indeed turned brighter; a pleasant instance which duplicated two or three more times subsequently.
Through periods when my infrastructure gets questioned by no other than me, or through spans when I get besieged by the thorny events of life, he enters my mind. It’s then that I have to second guess myself for feeling defeated when in battle against the stuffs of survival. With his kind that gets out in the world to show us (luckier ones) that you needn’t lose a sense of purpose despite the odds, how many are there who’ll be able to match such amazing display of strength and perseverance?
Thus it’s become a blessing what he (like my dearest one) has embodied in my life. No chance will I run into him again as I won’t be going to those areas of the city anymore; yet recollections of his image and determination linger every so often.
I don’t think I’ll be forgetting him anytime soon.