Saturday 16 June 2018

'Escapism' by Munira Sayyid

I knew a man who dreamed with his eyes open.

Heavy-limbed, dirt-splotched skin; like him, his beard had seen better days. He wore knotted rags that guaranteed his unmentionables were hidden from the world. Every morning, I would find him under the traffic lights. He'd marked his territory with debris, discarded knick-knacks and things that festered when ignored. He was always busy, searching among the dirt and stone. The map in his mind played tricks on him and the spot marked 'X' flitted like a butterfly, always just beyond his grasp.

There were periods of exhaustion, when his bubbled legs gave out on him. His eyes would shimmer with visions from the past. Then he would slap his head and shake it off, like a bad dream that threatened to take control.

One day, I saw a policeman next to his slumped form. His sunglasses prevented his eyes to soak in the confused isolation and misplaced life. The man's lips moved, garbled words assuring how close he is to finding it - his diamond in the rough.

After that day, I never saw that man again.

His home was torn down and an abyss lay in its place. Perhaps, those who complained feared the filth on his flesh was a precursor to an undefined disease. Possibly, they interpreted his silence as volcanic rage that did not cease for kindness nor reason. Maybe it was simpler. They did not like absorbing the city's reality; this plight yawning wider and wider. Like a shameful secret, best swept under the rug.

Out of sight, out of mind. Ignorance is bliss. Maybe, they too preferred to reside in their dreams.


  1. Wow. This is so timely and relevant considering the homeless encampments so prevalent these days. "Maybe they too preferred to reside in their dreams." Good work!

  2. Love this! 'His sunglasses prevented his eyes to soak in the confused isolation and misplaced life'. Says it all!


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