A waiting shed for public transport. This has been his bedroom for many months. Family? No, he doesn’t have any. O, wait. There is one guy he met who has the same last name as his mother. It must surely be his cousin, he laughs.
His breath comes in short, shallow, sharp gasps and I know his sickness is very bad. My mind is whirring. We just finished our weekly feeding to 130 children and I dealt with 50 medical check-ups. This day always leaves me feeling burdened for these people that make a garbage dump their home.
But the community has brought this man to me. Their eyes are watching my every move. What will I do with a homeless man? A man with no history? A man who is so very very sick. I am scared, he says ever so quietly. I look long and hard into his teary eyes. I know he is.
I sigh. I am sure they saw me hesitate. My ICU is full… I can only put him on a mattress in my garage. I explain that to him. He smiles and says that’s so much better than what he has. I tell him he needs to shower because he stinks so bad. Another smile.
As long as there is breath, there is life, he says, as though I need convincing. I smile back at him and with his little plastic bag of all his earthly belongings, we pile into our van. For such a sick man, he is very generous with his smiles.