On usual days, I probably wouldn’t stop, like the majority of people on the busy streets. But the very thing that entered my mind that he was there and I knew I noticed him was the very reason, so I stopped.
Id just spent a portion of the morning reading and reflecting on John 9; the chapter contains the story about the man blind from birth. I’d finished my brunch (breakfast and lunch, that is) wan was returning to school when I saw him. He was singing. An aluminum can was in his left hand, his right hand was extended open, begging for alms or awaiting donations. He was blind.
After walking past him, about five steps, I stopped and contemplated on something about myself, sort of hypocrisy on my side. So I went back to his direction and put some change in his hand. “salamat”, he said. “tani maglawig kabuhi mo.” Ironic wish.
Once again I started on my way. The morning’s study of John 9 stopped me. I remembered this line: “Jesus saw a man blind from birth.” I paused and pondered. If Jesus were here, what would he do? I was not sure what I meant, so I turned back to him again.
I glanced at my phone, to check the time. It was 10:30, my class is still at 11:30.
So I decided to stop beside a nearby car and observe the man. I challenged myself to see him. A sightless, singing man on a busy street.
I watched him sing, some beggars lay their children on blankets in the middle of the sidewalk on broad daylight thinking that only the hardest of hearts would ignore a dirty, naked infant asking for bread.
But this man did none of that. He just stood there. Stood tall and sang. Sang loudly, even proudly. All of us had more reason to sing than he, but he was the one singing, mainly folk songs, but im not so sure.
The passersby had various reactions. Some were curious, and some were uncomfortable. Some didn’t even notice him. Their thoughts were occupied, their agendas were full and he was. . . well, he was a blind beggar.
I was thankful he couldn’t see the way they looked at him.
I couldn’t help myself anymore, I went back to him, he was still singing and his hands were empty. “kapanyaga ka na nong?” I asked. He stopped singing and turned his head towards the direction of my voice. His eyes were empty. He said he was hungry. So I went to nearby cheap eatery and bought him a sandwich and a cold drink.
He was grateful for the food. I accompanied him to a bench. We sat. Between bites, he told me about himself. Twenty-eight years old. Living with his parents and seven brothers. “ginbata ka nga bulag nong?”
“indi. Na aaksidenteko sang-una.” He didn’t add some info’s so we went back to his place minutes ago. I bid my goodbyes to him.
It was Wednesday, so it’s our school’s civilian day. I was wearing a polo shirt, jeans and some nice shoes. His shoes had holes; his coat was oversized and bulky, his pants open a rip in the knee.
And still, he sang. Though sightless, he still found a song and sang it courageously.
At first I thought he was singing out for desperation. But no, even when no one gave him coins, he still had his song. So I assumed, and somewhat believed that he was singing out of contentment. Somehow, in his blindness, he had discovered a light called satisfaction, and it glowed in his dark world.
The scene was painfully amusing. This blind man could be the most peaceful fellow on the street. No diploma, no awards, and no future. Well, atleast he has a great perspective about life. But I wondered how many in this urban culture would exchange their achievements for a chance to be in his shoes or foe a chance to drink at his well.
For almost a block, I could hear him singing, and in my mind’s eye I could still see him. But the man I now saw was a different one than the one to whom I’d given a few coins. Though the man I now saw was still blind, he was remarkably insightful. And though I was the one with eyes, it was he who gave me a new vision.