Shackles of our Virtues


“Aehhhhhh,” In the midst of a narrow lane, before me and my parked vehicle, he wailed with slightly parted lips.

His wail was in an unfamiliar language, but comprehensible. What was more startling than this unnerving sound was that nobody else saw or heard it. It was I and only myself who was forcefully labored to watch this unwelcoming incident happen right before me. He had his legs wavering, to and fro, back and forth – that forced his upper body to stir in different directions, like a waste-bag fluttering in the wind. I was about to leave, but right then, his upper body bent backwards – his legs losing balance and his lips begging silently – in an unambiguously unknown language – for help.

Humanity made me reach out my hands toward him, but my indecisive thoughts stuck my legs to the ground. His fall was slow, like a snowflake fluttering in the wind and falling, gently – sadly breaking to the ground, and in between, giving me a forever to weigh my thoughts and fears.

I could hear my heart beat, beat, beat, loudly, – throbbing with the possibility that while my hands tried to reach out his before he fell, he could remove a silver, shining blade from the back of his pants; my chest would get all bruised and the blood loss would force me to fall instead. But his loose, beige color pants – that when looked closely, could be betted on to once being white – were hung in the air while his thin skeleton legs – by the looks of it – were gravity stricken and slowly descending backwards.

My legs moved frantically when my mind consented another possibility: he could have his sharp claws clung to my arms while his mouth would widen and unveil his huge, crooked teeth – right when my legs move towards his falling ones. But then his bony, rustic hands that held his dirt-colored, obscure nails – those two of which you could not tell one from another – spread in thin air, longing to hold onto an invisible entity – something that would save him. His arms fell backwards too, but one could tell they didn’t want to fall: they clung tightly to midair. And slowly, if you had the knack to observe details, you would see that the wrinkles that bound his mouth deepened as his lips parted more and more to a loud silence.

That was exactly when my hands shivered to the weakness of my knees, thinking of a new fear that my mind couldn’t quieten. This fear that lurked on the expressions of my face and the fastening of my breath: that as soon as my feet moved towards his and my hands tried to save him, he would unleash a white chloroformed cloth and would press it against my nose until I lose all my consciousness before he flees me to some unknown, dark place.

That was when his lower back fell silently to the ground and his naked feet hung in the air and his ripped, faded t-shirt showed his famished torso, like it were only an old cloth covering a skeleton of a long-dead man. The hustle of legs moved past him like he were non-existent and the honking and roaring and squealing of vehicles on the road made his being as invisible as a crushed can in the corner of the street, as a mosquito that hovered on waste-bags or as a homeless man in the middle of a street as he was.

I stood there for minutes, observing him. Not knowing that I was victimized by my own self. I had seen his fall like a distant spectator in disgust with its drama and in fright with its consequences. I was wronged by the shackles of my own mind, flawed by those frightening fears that made my knees tremble and remorsefully, blinded by the virtues of my own little world.

No matter how much I try, I cannot erase his image from my memory: there he had fallen, in the middle of a narrow street, his hands begging for help, his legs not wanting to fall, his voice loudly unheard to everyone else who, with all their eyes and mind, couldn’t see him or his fall – or maybe, they never wanted to.