Walking home from the railway station, I am devouring a lemon-custard bun. There is a blueberry-jam bun in my purse that I am saving for later. A few meters ahead I spot a grey-haired man half-knelt on the sidewalk, his face scrunched up. He is making indecipherable sounds. A bowl sits before him. I get closer and we make eye contact. I take another bite of lemon custard; the guilt sploshes about in my gut. I very rarely give to beggars, having been told all my life that no good comes out of it. But I could at least give him the bun in my bag. The blueberry-jam bun. Would that look weird? I’ve walked past him now. Should I turn back? It’s too late. He probably wouldn’t enjoy it anyway. The homeless these days are picky about the food you give them–what if he just throws it out? What a waste. I keep walking; I turn a corner. My heart is troubled. If I see another beggar I will do something. Not that that’s likely though; another five minutes and I’m home. But what’s that up ahead: a woman huddled on the sidewalk with her head down, a plastic cup explaining her purpose. I get closer. She doesn’t look up. I don’t know where I would put the bun. It’s wrapped in plastic but putting food on the ground is like feeding a dog. Balance it on the cup? Tap her on the shoulder? People are coming towards me; I have to move aside. I just walked past her.
I should turn back.
Chinese don’t like sweet things.
Give her a dollar then.
She might be working for the triad.
She needs to fucking eat.
The government should help her.
I have no soul.
I let Sean have most of the bun. At least it wasn’t all for me.
Now I am writing about the incident on my blog. My belly is full and I am warm, but I am still a good person because I acknowledge my heartlessness. Forgetting it is worse.
It doesn’t take long to forget.