The gust of cold wind greeted Negus Ruba as he stepped outside the Farmer’s Mission Church. He buttoned up his tweed coat and flung his hood over his head. The old tenement buildings of the Lower East Side lined the sky on the right. On the left, the ritzier, glittery lofts of SoHo slung the sunshine for a minute, blinding him.
Ruba took a few more hurried steps north. Up ahead, the Empire State Building jutted into the skyline a giant syringe. For some reason, Ruba felt different this morning – he felt strongly about something he could not pinpoint. But one thing for sure, he felt as if the day had greater things in store for him, although he could not understand or even explain this feeling of optimism.
Often, he would be depressed. He loathed his life, his homelessness, and the stench of the bodies of the homeless men who came to the Mission every evening to be fed and to sleep.
Ruba slowed down and stopped at the next traffic light. He waited impatiently while the early morning traffic filtered through the golden light. The sun cast blood-red rays east of Houston Street. The entire sky glowed red and animated by the glorious rising of the sun. For a split second Ruba felt its warmth.
He sauntered across the street as soon as the “walk man” signal came on. He hunched his shoulders against the freezing wind, taking meausred steps across the wide thoroughfare. Half a block away, a dog walker came around the corner. Ruba felt his body getting tense. He avoided the dog and its walker by slinking a few feet away on the opposite side of the pavement.
Almost instinctively, the dog – a pit bull – started barking at him uncontrollably. He knew from the dog’s barking that it was vicious. Dogs and homeless people are never friendly.
He strode on, feeling relieved to walk past the dog. His feeling of optimism suddenly hit him again. Today will be a turning point, he thought.
By King Molapo