There is a thing inside us all.
A desire each person longs for. People die and kill to have it. They sell their souls and seek for ways to win the highest of highest prizes. People have gone to war in order to say it is theirs.
The element in life they are all searching for is beauty.
Not only do they want to have it, but they also experience the utmost need to feel beautiful.
To stand out, to be unique.
The noise around me staggered. I felt a babe among pigs roaring for attention. I followed her without much concern for loss of sight, I’d just return the way I came if she did vanish from my eyes. A shoulder brushed mine and I another’s. Turning prepared to say, I’m sorry, but no one paid attention. The brushing is normal.
Old ladies and cigarettes in their black mourning clothes. Widows – pity arouse in my pit. I imagined myself waking up each morning grabbing that bag with the cigarettes, weak for the loss of a man I’d grown old with, in my black hot-driven-clothes, spending my whole day in this rut – this market place. Hoping for a look to take my eye and buy a pack.
What a life for a poor old lady. But she was not alone. At least 20 others joined her in her daily routine. Some sat on the ground, while others patiently waited for a client standing still. Barely voicing a tone, expect when necessary, Cigarettes.
They reminded me of the man. The one in his wheel chair earlier that day. His one foot was good, but the other oversized and swollen. Poor man, who left him all by his own? my mama spoke, pity in her voice. I sat behind her on the moped, stopped at a red light. We watched him wheel himself once the traffic stopped behind us. I’ve seen him around her before… I murmured.
Sun on his back, he wheeled to a car whose window lay down. Immediately, I knew he was begging for money. The people are indifferent, my mama spoke. No need to disagree, I myself feel indifferent toward them. All of them. The beggars. Am I a harsh judge? You never know who’s real and who’s not. Mother’s use children, father’s do too. They waste it all on cigarettes. Isn’t that the first thought? Drilled in my brain. How do I know who’s poor? Does it even matter? When do I choose to pay attention?
Green light, the moped moves forward, my eyes fall on a sign – moped saddles. I see the merchandise, I see the man and I realize his occupation: He sits by the lights and hopes for someone to stop and buy his moped saddles. That’s what he lives off. A chance of selling a saddle. Perhaps, right? Unstable job, completely, I think to myself. But we’re gone now and my remorse is fleeting from my mind. I’m broke, but I’m still so much better than that man.
I don’t want that life. Maybe, I do like it easy. Too many thoughts of guilt and I flush them out. After all, aren’t I headed to spend money? To buy some good for myself? To get a few new shirts… while others have none. Flush the guilt, it’s all gone and the journey ends.
All for one! All for one. One euro, for all! All for one! repetition. Over and over again. His voice breaks through the noisy alley. Where am I? Oh, right, the marketplace. Getting food. Buying meat, cucumbers, tomatoes – a bag in my hand. Four new shirts, a dress and a hair accessory, plus a coffee under my belt. I feel good about myself, I feel valued. New clothes make me feel less overlooked. Because finally, I have something new to show off – something, I so easily obtained. Something to make me feel special.
He keeps repeating the same thing. All for one! All for one! each second, not a breath in-between. And her! Her voice like a crow makes his seem sweet. She talks about batteries, lights and other stuff – I don’t even want to remember. All the while, one yells about meat and the other about vegetables. The voices don’t stop.
But I feel good about myself. I watch them and feel pity. For the old lady with her bag of cigarettes. The Albanian who’s set up shop a little farther down as well. For myself, because I am all too happy that I don’t live in that world. A world, I’d get so overwhelmed by. A world in which yelling about your product gets you costumers.
Early risers, they get up and put their merchandise out. Perhaps, someone will listen to their cry and look their way. Perhaps, someone will buy. Perhaps,… oh perhaps. Meanwhile, I hold my bag of clothes, my bag of cucumbers, my helmet and thank God for not putting me here.
However, I only think about this hours later, when I’ve left the market. When I’ve seen how pleased I am to have new clothes. To feel beautiful in what I’ve purchased. Realizing, I had been feeling demeaned because I constantly wore the same thing over and over again. If I’ve come to overlook my clothes, than how could another not overlook me?
What’s the smile for? Who did you talk to?! she asked and I felt a feeling of surprised rush down my spin. A smile? Who me? I was only asking about the kitties. No one! came my reply, very true and honest indeed. Sure, I know that smile!! she insisted and my mind raced.