Monique's Memory Sinking Seconds

The open-air market was a cacophony of activity that swirled around my puffed pumpkin-like black coat and I. Upon turning into the ally of tarp encased food stalls, the essence of sweet bread and oil-dipped pies flooded my senses. Not wanting to once-again be late, I wobbled along like a new born penguin upon the icy December ground. Reaching the thick, heavy glass doors leading to the metro I started my decent towards the dank and smoky underground tunnel. Through the crowd a sandy-haired, obviously unbathed, boy crouching in the corner caught my attention. In that memory sinking second his face was burned on my conscience. As my feet continued my mind slowly caught up with my Christian conviction and I halted; causing the swelling crowd to push past me in their haste. Looking down at the lone loaf of white bread in my hand I pushed back to the staircase I had been just minutes before. With eyes flitting from boy to stairs to ceiling I forgot my previous hurry to concentrate on what words I would say in a language not my own. Crouching in front of this boy whose haunting, empty eyes are still singed in my memory, I held out my measly offering and smiled.

His weathered eyes bore into all who dared stare in his face. His slow shuffling being hindered by the belongings on his back. Moving into the retro train wagon, he seemed to suddenly appear in front of my husband and I. His memory sinking gaze at once instigated feelings of sadness and a longing to reach out and help. His long, white straggly beard led my eyes down to his stained cloak and pants with which came an unimaginable smell. Then he turned with our small, paltry token of words and money.

As the smoky underground tunnel led upwards, she was there. Crouched up with her baby in her arms with eyes so pleading it curls up your insides. Instinctively, my hand went to my pocket. But, wait, the baby’s asleep. Then there it was, a memory sinking moment of indecision. The nagging thought that this baby is not truly asleep, but was drugged so it can be a better form of income.

The rattling nearly overpowered the small voice straining at the opposite end of the train wagon. Through the ocean of humanity a small child of eight in the body of a four year old jostles through the crowd, stooped over on the cain of an eighty year old. Stopping occasionally to insist on the beggars fee from the sitting passengers, he nears to where I stand. In one swift movement as the train stops, this ‘crippled’ child straightens, picks up his cain and runs to the next wagon to continue his facade. There it was, the memory sinking indignation, that there are those who will force an innocent child to falsify a living before their time.

In one of a thousand countries around the world with a poverty stricken beggar on every corner I struggle day-to-day with the conviction to help the down-stricken, but not those who prey on this need just to fill their own pockets. I struggle with the need to help those who need it, not just those attempting to forge a need. I struggle with knowing when to help and when not to. I struggle with the unanswered question: Who really needs my help? But they all need God's love... so my memory sinking seconds turn into a daily struggle of knowing how to show it.

Eric & Monique