With an hour remaining I returned to Victoria station and thought I would sit in the food court of the shopping plaza and read my book. I sat in the seating area of KFC. Taking a break from my Jane Austen novel I saw a pale man with a long grey beard wearing a blue ripped puffy coat, a woolly hat and slippers, pulling along a very old black small suitcase past me. He walked up to the group of boys sitting furthest away from me, stretching out his hand, he asked them something. One of the boys put his hand in his pocket and took out a pound, from what I made and handed it to him. He walked up to the counter to buy something. I went back to reading my book.
After 5 minutes two girls and a boy stood in front of me and asked me if I could move so they could sit, as I was sitting on a table for four people. So I stood up and sat opposite to them on another table. It happened that the pale looking man was sitting there too. He had his head down and his hands placed on both sides of his grey hat. He looked up as I sat down, then instantly looked to his left and watched as a man got up leaving his devoured KFC meal on the table with the plastic drink can. The pale man got up walked over to the table with the rubbish on it and picked up the plastic drink can, only then to sigh as it was empty.
He turned around and walked over to the two girls and the boy, whom I had left the seats for. They had a 1 litre Fanta bottle with them. He muttered something, pointed to the Fanta bottle whilst holding the empty plastic can. They shook their heads and moved the Fanta bottle to the other side of their table. He walked back and slumped himself in the seat again.
I made an excuse in my head for those teenagers at that moment; I just thought maybe they were intimidated by the way he looks. I realised this man was thirsty and the one pound that had been given to him had only bought him a tiny pot of baked beans and a packet of crisps. I thought if I bought him food he may refuse. So I went and bought two bottles of water from the KFC counter and placed them in front of him whilst taking my seat again.
“Oh thank you darling, thank you very much, I am thirsty” he said as he opened one of the bottles and started to drink the water. I replied with “its ok you’re welcome”. Two minutes of silence followed. I wanted to talk to him, I wanted to find out why he was in the state he was. I knew obviously that this man was homeless. I had seen so many of them in London.
I took the courage and I asked “Sorry may I ask what your situation is?” He looked up with his bright blue eyes and nodded his head and said “yeah I’m homeless yeah” That was the start of our conversation. I asked him a ton of questions. Why he was homeless, where he was from and how many homeless people there were in and around Victoria station. He was happy to answer my questions. I asked him if there were any pregnant homeless women and what ethnic groups they were usually from. From all ethnic groups he said and around 2 pregnant homeless ladies in and around the Victoria station area. A few moments of silence followed as I tried to gather my thoughts, what would be the best way to ask, I thought? Ah “would you like to have food with me?” I asked him. He half smiled and said “well you get whatever you are having and then I will just have some of your chips or something” and I said “no by food I mean a proper meal, what would you like me to get you?” and he said “erm…just some chicken would be nice thank you very much darling”
I got the food and brought it over to the table with some ketchup. Handed him his chicken meal with a bottle of water and I sat down to eat my meal too.
J = Homeless man (Find out later why)
J: “It’s really difficult to find free drinking water in London”
P: “Yes it really is, something that actually should be free”
Silence as we both bite into our food.
J: “are you like one of those Christian people?”
P: *smiling* “No…Why do only Christian people help you?”
J: “No nice people like you help me thats how I get by…So what religion are you from then?”
P: “I’m a Muslim”
J: “Really. I’m from a Methodist church”
P: “Oh I visited a Methodist church earlier today. I like Churches. I think they are very pretty. There is a Methodist Church near Regents Park, which is the one I visited today”
J then goes on to explain to me the history of all the churches in London. The architecture, design and who built them. I figured out that he was an architect by profession and had been doing that for the past 45 years of his life. I found it quite amazing. Here I was sitting with a homeless man, having a meal and talking about history, architecture and religion!
J: “St Pauls is the oldest Church in London or was it in England I can’t remember. You see when I had the resources I would also go and read about stuff like this”
P: “I love history it is my favourite subject. But I should do more research about the history of churches. Quite an interesting one” *smiling*
I then asked why he doesn’t have shoes. His shoes had been stolen while he was sleeping, so now he opts for sleeping during the day and staying awake during the night. I wanted to give him money so he could buy some shoes but I knew he would refuse. Whilst I spoke to him he was adamant that he could get back on his feet again. He would do it himself without help from any one. He had been on the street for 1 year already. He told me he was mentally stronger now than before
J: “So being a Muslim does that mean you have to have that marriage…I don’t know what its called”
P: “You mean arranged? No not really. It’s entirely up to me who I choose to marry”
J: “So do you have a boyfriend?”
P: *laughing* “No”
J: “Is that because your religion forbids it?”
P : “Well sort of but also because I just don’t want one! Too much of a headache”
J: “Well you have lovely skin and a beautiful smile. I hope whoever the man is you end up with, I hope he is kind to you and I hope he treats you well”
P: *laughing* “Thank you that’s really kind of you”
J: “Make sure he is kind to you and if he isn’t then leave him. You are too much of a nice beautiful person to be treated badly. I really hope you find a good husband”
How sweet. I was not even freaked out by his remarks. I found them to be very humble and pure. Glancing at my watch I had about 10 minutes to make my way and pick up my passport. I decided to take leave.
P: “I really hope you come out of this situation and I think you should try and get help from the council”
J: “They don’t help people like me. We’ve intentionally made ourselves homeless according to them”
P: “But I am sure they help in some ways. You should try and I hope you come out of this. It was a pleasure to meet you Sir. I am so sorry I got caught up talking I forgot to ask your name?”
J: “My name is Jack and what is yours?”
P: “My name is Peymana”
J: “Oh that’s a very unique name where is it from?”
P: “It’s from Afghanistan”
Tears fill Jacks eyes
J: “It is a shame my country has invaded your country in the hopes of helping your people when they can’t even help their own people, people like me”
At that moment I felt such a flood of emotions. I just said to Jack that it was going to be ok and that I wished him all the best. He asked me to watch out for him if I was ever in Victoria again. With that I shook his hand and bid him farewell.
As I walked away I glanced back and saw him put his head down and place both his hands on the sides of his grey hat…just the way I had found him.