“But is this all there is for us?” His friend whispered under his breath, his tone full of disdain. You couldn’t blame him really. His heart and mind were still reeling, trying to make sense of his current situation. He let out a deep breath as he turned away from the game. His eyes focused on the life around him, his mind lost as he absently took it all in: the cries of the little girl tugging on her mother’s dress to get her attention, the drunken moans of men getting their daily fix of cheap alcohol, the shouts of drivers as they hurl undue insults at one another, busy movement of the people. All lulled him deep into his thoughts.
The man stared at his friend, confused by his question. Truth be told it was a question that crossed his mind more than just a few times. The uncertainty of his state craving its answer in various forms. But he had decided long ago that ignorance was better than knowledge of the unknown.
He kept holding on to that resolve as though his life depended and maybe it did. You see, he woke up on a daily basis with a constant aching for what had been lost, his heart bitter with guilt and regret. It’s moments like this that he remembered. He reminded himself of the life he once had and the life he could have been living. Memories of his losses clouded his head. The face of a woman came to mind: his wife, her once youthful and beautiful face now etched with wrinkles and worry; maybe a twinge of disappointment too. At least that was how she looked the day she left him in the world, their toddler clutching tightly to him barely old enough to have memories of his mother. He couldn’t help the wave of disappointment that washed over him. He had become withering mess of a man earning barely enough to care for his child, gambling away what little he had left, reduced to living his life on a cheap game.
“Is this really how you want to continue to live?” His friend asked again bringing him out of his thoughts. “An unfulfilled life? Waking up every day with nothing to call your own? Putting in what little token you have into a ratchet game in hopes that you’ll succeed at winning with half-thought-out strategy when you can’t even make an effort to achieve something worthwhile out of yourself in life?”
He had nothing to say, for his friend spoke the truth.
“I refuse,” he finally uttered, “I refuse to continue to live like this. To wake up with nothing and go back to sleep with nothing. To have my life revolve around this… I refuse.” His dark eyeballs glistened with a brief display of tears. His reply working its way out faster than his head could process it.
But he became himself again, shaking away the influence of his friend’s words on his mind. “Maybe this is all there is for us here. You see, my dear friend, there are different standards of living and this is where we fit in.”
The friend knew better than to try and change the man’s mind. He had had a conversation of this with people like him. People who believed they could do nothing about their current state, people who thought that here was all that there was for them.
But he had made his decision. He knew could make a change, for himself and those around him.
One little step at a time.
And they continued to play the draught in the silence of thoughts.
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