Notes on a City

Dublin 2012

A girl walks out onto the street. She picks up a flattened bread roll off the ground. The front wheel of the bus I am driving drove over the sandwich she has just plucked from the dirty road.

The girl is Asian, with emaciated legs, and when she walks it looks like each step pains her.  I watch her in the side mirror as I wait for the traffic light to turn red.

She steps back onto the pavement and examines the roll which is filled with ham and salad. Carefully she tears off a chunk of bread and eats it. A man stops to stare back at her. He looks like he needs a shower, and a good meal, but not as badly as she does. I catch a glimpse of the girl’s face. She looks pale and exhausted. The last I see of her she is plucking off dirty pieces of bread and putting them in a bin. The man is still staring at her.

Both of us appalled, and impressed, by her refusal of shame. Shame is a luxury she may never again experience. The light turns green and I release the brake. Her face and her thin legs will haunt me all day, even though I have seen far worse things unfold themselves from these streets.

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