The Forlorn and Forgotten

It was the first day of Ramadan; the sun was shining and I was just another face in the crowd as I scurried along the footpath making my way to work. Whilst pondering what my mother was going to make for iftar I noticed a crowd gathered near the street where my work building was located. I asked an onlooker what had happened.

“Some homeless man committed suicide, he jumped off there…poor bugger,” he said pointing at the building opposite my work. His words sent a chill down my spine; I immediately remembered the homeless man I had been seeing at Town Hall station everyday for the past six months… The man I would always give a warm smile to, only to realise that today I had not seen him. A burning sense of guilt grabbed hold of me and my eyes glazed over. Trying to stop myself from crying I continued walking to work.

My reaction surprised me. How could this homeless man who I had never spoken to affect me so much?  As I went about my day he remained on my mind and the nagging guilt persisted. After arriving home, I promised myself that when I returned on Monday and he was still there I would talk to him.

It was Monday morning and I was already feeling nervous. Not knowing what to expect, I frantically made my way to the corner of the street where I was hoping the man would be… And he was. He was sitting with his arms hugging his knees as the wind blew the rain towards his face. The sense of relief that flooded through me was indescribable. I approached the man and introduced myself, he looked at me with a weary smile.

“Would you like some breakfast?” I asked crouching down to the floor. He looked at me with a stunned look and softly said, “Yes please”. I returned with his McDonald’s breakfast meal and a coffee. I placed it beside him and told him to eat it while it was hot; he looked at me with his bright blue pleading eyes and thanked me. For the rest of that week I bought him breakfast each day.

On the last day the man asked me why I had gone to the effort of buying him breakfast that week.

“No one cares about us,” he said.

“I care,” I replied. I told the man that it is the holy month of Ramadan and explained what that meant.

“Well in that case everyday is Ramadan for me ‘cause I’m always satrvin’,” he laughed.

I  told him how I was appalled at myself that it took the possibility of death before I helped him in any small way.

“I felt terrible for not helping you before and when I thought you jumped…well… I felt somehow responsible that I had contributed by not helping beyond a warm smile,” I said.

He asked, “Would you have bought me breakfast if it wasn’t for Ramadan?”

His questions surprised me, and admittedly I wouldn’t have.

Although I had left the man and said goodbye, his question remained with me. Here was a non-Muslim man who had just truly made me realise the value and benefit of Ramadan. I kept wondering, why did I wait till Ramadan to help? Although our good deeds are multiplied in the holy month, that day I discovered that for me Ramadan is not just about fasting, feasting, praying taraweeh and understanding the meaning of the Quran Al-Kareem.

Ramadan is about going beyond your comfort zone and about challenging yourself to do something you would otherwise not do. But most importantly, this homeless man with his ragged clothes and cracked hands taught me that Ramadan should be a stepping stone at bettering yourself beyond the days of fasting and restoring hope for those who have lost grip on it.

So I challenge you to do something you wouldn’t normally do. It doesn’t have to be buying breakfast for a homeless man if you are skeptical of homeless people, but find something you have always wanted to do and do it, because this life of ours is temporary and as I learned there are people all around us, Muslim and non-Muslim that fall into our daily backdrop and remain forgotten.

So look around, take notice and see where you can make a small contribution that can result in a big impact… an impact on both them and you.

Widyan Al Ubudy.

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~ by widyanalubudy on July 30, 2012.

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