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Stare At Me. Remember This Face

This boy of about seven-years of age was hobbling along slowly. One crooked leg after another, slowly inching his way past the checkout counter. He had to bent to flip one leg in front, and then bed and flip the other leg in front. And he had the contraption around both his arms but and it probably hurt a little to walk the way he did. But it can't hurt more than the stares that people were giving him. He walks alone headed towards the exit. I don't know what it must feel like to have people gawp at you like that. Like you are not normal. Like you are a caged animal. I don't know how his mother's heart must break whenever he cries over why he isn't the way other seven-year-olds are. I don't know how he learns to contain his anger over his situation and why people stared so openly at him. And yet, he inched his way to the exit. Alone. The cashier stopped working altogether just to stare. One of them even walked closer to get a better look. It was his back that we could see now but I am curious about what was going on inside his young head. How does a seven-year-old deal with something like this? Is he strong enough? But that wasn't what I was concerned about. Why was he alone? I was done paying and told myself to walk past and not be a busybody. I walked past him and out the exit. Being me. Sigh.... I just couldn't help it, so I turned around and waited for him. He flip-flopped slowly and when he exited the door, his eyes finally met my gaze. I don't think he has ever had a grown-up stranger approach him and ask him things because when I asked him, 'How come you are alone?' he stared at me with his mouth hanging open. I can only imagine that the only form of communication he got from the general public was curious looks, sneaky glances and then the back of the heads of people who were pretending that they were not looking while he KNEW they were. I thought he didn't speak English but before I could say it in Cantonese, he stuttered, 'My mother.' Ahhh...so he came with his mother. There was a hint of a smile, I can't be sure, though, but I continued asking, 'Where is she?' 'She's driving, bringing the car around to here. Asked me to wait for her,' he said in his barely audible voice. I told him that it was good and that he should not try to go anywhere alone. He nods his head and I turn around. As I drove away, I saw that he was sitting quietly waiting for his mother to come get him. What if she didn't? What if something happened? How could his mother just let him walk alone, in that state, through a mall of staring people? I don't know the story behind it so, I am not in the position to judge. I stole one last look at my rear view mirror and hoped that he has every single ounce of strength to tell the world this:- 'Look at me now. Remember this face. I am no less than you are and one day, many years from now, when you think you are ahead, you might see this face again.'
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