The other side of winter

Essay by Afzal7864u July 2007

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As I lay there in the bitter cold, huddled closely with others like myself, watching the rich crowd go by, I was filled with a black rage so strong that, had my numb hands not been frozen to my side, I would viciously have assaulted one of those uncaring, obscenely rich people. As I watched them go by, trying to find the nearest shelter to get out of the deadly cold, I was filled with intense jealousy and hatred. They had everything I did not have, and wanted. They scurried past us without even a glance, tightly wrapped in expensive, stylish fur coats and boots that made them look like overstuffed bears. I watched the children run past us as if we were a bunch of raging terrorists that had escaped from prison, their little hands covered in the snuggest of gloves, their little feet protected by fur boots at the expense of a poor animal’s life; and then, I looked at the children in my group and my heart filled with pity at their sorry state: tattered bits of skimpy cloth covered their skeletal bodies, looks of fear and despair seemed to be etched into their naïve faces and their skin was a deathly shade of blue numbness.

The unbearable stench of decaying bodies, rotting food and stale perspiration drove me away from the little huddle. I kept moving, walking along the sleet-covered streets of Cape Town like a robot programmed to do so in order to keep my almost frozen blood circulating. My frost bitten fingers were motionless and hung limply at my sides. I walked on aimlessly, yearning for a hot fire and the taste of scalding hot chocolate to quench my thirst and warm me up instantly. My day-dreaming made me clumsy and I bumped into a very well-dressed man who turned and spat abuse at me. He looked at me as if I were a filthy piece of gum stuck onto the soles of his brand new shoes. I hurried along until I came across a group of people filling their stomach with hot pretzels and steaming coffee. I stretched out my hand pleadingly but they just looked at me with a cool indifference and carried on with their meals.

I passed deli’s and restaurants and the wonderful aroma that emanated from each doorway was so intoxicating I could have stood there all day, but then I would have turned into an ice block. Through frost covered windows I could see blazing fires, and the sight mesmerised me. I could hear the whistling of the wind as it forced its way through cracks and crevices, blowing out fires and chilling the resident. The sound of hot popcorn popping and the sizzling of chocolate chip cookies piping hot from the oven filed my ears and I walked on in despair, my heart heavy and my eyes filled with sorrow, hurt and grief etched into my face because I knew that I would never have any of these luxuries. The people of this world are too involved in their own lived to stop and help others. They have become greedy monsters who want everything for themselves. I doubted I would be able to suffer through another winter. Already, the inviting thought of just laying down and going to sleep, blocking out all this pain, was filling my head. Suddenly, I couldn’t take it anymore. I let out a blood curdling yell, putting all my grief into it and then I stopped. I gave up. I lay down right there closed my eyes. The last sound I heard was the voice of a boy asking his mother. “What’s wrong with that mad man?”