It was a Saturday about 4 weeks ago. I had gone on my usual weekly stroll down Portobello Road. I knew I looked good that day, it was sunny and I was in the best mood ever. I then made my way to Edgware Road to fix my mobile phone. A child stops me on my tracks to beg for some money. My mood changes immediately since it really angers me to see children begging and lets face it the money doesn’t really go to them. I immediately say no, he tries again, I then say ‘you can follow me as much as you like but I’m not going to give you anything’. He leaves me alone. I make my way to the phone shop still thinking about what just happened, I suddenly feel so guilty at how aggressively I spoke to that child, I’d let out my frustration of the situation on him. I can’t bear it so I go back on my tracks to find him. I see him with another friend, they are looking at the window display of an electronic store at phones and things that they must dream of but can’t afford. As I approach him he jumps, he’s scared that I’m going to accuse him of something and looks at me as if to say ‘I didn’t do anything’ (this makes me feel even more guilty). I turn to him and his friend and say ‘look I said I wouldn’t give you money but I can buy you food, do you want some cake or something?’ They are quiet, they don’t know what to say. The younger one mumbles something about MacDonalds and I say we can go there, they tell me it’s far down the road, I tell them that’s fine. As we begin to walk they immediately start thanking me and I’m thinking I haven’t even bought you anything yet. I tell them it’s no problem. They can’t stop thanking me all the way, the more they do this the more guilty I feel, I know sometimes kids play up to get a reaction but I feel like these children are genuine, you can see it in their eyes. I turn to them and say ‘listen, we all need to eat don’t we?’ They agree, I give them a hi-five, their expression immediately softens, they become relaxed and cheery. At this point I really feel so connected to them, like suddenly we’re all equal. I think about how strange it must look walking down the street next to them in my flashy sunglasses and new shoes, I feel ashamed that I was so happy earlier partly because I looked good. One of them turns to me and says ‘you are very beautiful, the men are looking at you but you are very kind.’ On route he spots a man carrying heavy boxes towards an apartment, he runs up and opens the door for him before rejoining us, he looks proud of himself. I ask them if they go to school, they say ‘yes but it’s very very far’. We arrive at destination, I order them both a medium sized meal, pay for it, say goodbye and leave them to it. They are overjoyed and all for what is £7 to me. At this point I don’t feel happy or sad, I feel empty, I need to reflect..
Three weeks later as if by fate, I’m sitting on the bus and I spot one of the boys getting on with some friends, I recognize him straight away. I’m thinking he probably won’t notice me. Just as he’s about to go upstairs he spots me, gives me the most genuine smile you can imagine and waves hello before merrily carrying on up the stairs. He was genuinely happy to see me and didn’t want anything more than a hello. MADE MY DAY
(true story to every detail)