Even as I am witness to all the injustices around me, tonight’s episode is one of those things that I have to contend with for the years ahead.
I can only count my blessings.
I drove through in the middle of an Oahu rain, one of the rare times that we get wet in the islands, and being February, a presumed rainy month, I had to wait it out after a late afternoon class to let the rain subside.
But I realized later on that there would not be a let up, and so I had to walk to the parking lot some distance away, to the H-1, where the lesser faculty and lesser staff and all able students are destined to park. (I teach at a university where some people enjoy the perks, while some do not, as is the case everywhere. For one thing, there is not enough parking space close by for this car-obsessed new homeland.)
In the middle of the fierce rain I navigated my way home, driving carefully, cautiously, with rapt attention to the magic of the rain and the gathering darkness. The road could be slippery in times like this. The AC, if it works, and the wiper, if it works too, could come in handy to clear the road, with its jam of flesh (and the steel they are on) rushing to the comforts of home.
I turned off the radio to avoid distraction, even if in the early evening hours, I like to catch the news from NPR, the only radio I trust for news everywhere including some filtered news from the old homeland once in a while.
Everything was smooth sailing, and I hit Exit 8. I slowed down on Farrington Highway in anticipation of those numerous crosswalks, and got back into the street that leads to home.
By my road, I have to make that quick left turn to get into my garage. By the huge crosswalk leading to a bus stop, and leading to the freeway, a man stood alone, silhouetted by a lamppost dimmed by the effects of the weather. The downpour had stopped, but there was still a slight drizzle. I saw him walk to the pavement that leads to my garage.
I made a quick left, and signaled for a right to get into my garage.
Before I could do that, a vehicle was about to pass by, so I had to let that vehicle go, and waited for my turn.
I saw the man with an uneasy gait. In the dim light, I sensed that he was trying to balance himself.
He stopped in front of my car, saying, in silence, something.
I woved my hand, in a driving away motion: Stay away!
He said something I could not hear. My windows were closed to keep the AC air circulating and to make it sure that I could see people and vehicles around me.
He staggered, his body leaning to one side, his face flushed, like that of a drunk man, perhaps, more than those two-for-the-road thing one takes after working so hard for a day. So this is America, this is Hawaii, with all those stories of despair as well. And stories of drunk men blocking people from going into their garage.
He remained in front of my vehicle, as if instructing me how to get in.
I rolled down my car window.
I shouted: Please get out of the way! I am getting in!
I did not hear any response. He just smiled. He moved a bit, but moved back to the center.
I shouted one more time, hoping that the sound of the drizzle and the traffic from the freeway would not drown my voice. I sensed some panic in me. What is this man doing?
Move away, I said. I am getting in. That is my parking.
He smiled, one lonely, desolate smile of a broken man.
He moved away, his body lilting. He tried to maintain his balance in the middle of the rain.
I looked at the man once more.
I realized that he was that man who had a wife and a newborn baby and who had occupied a portion of the restroom of a public park for a home.
Some Sundays I go to that public park and there try to remove all the excess I have about life, anxieties and all.
My young daughter saw the family one Sunday and wanted to give them some food.
We fought the urge: tales abound in this place about some people giving food to some people and then the giver ending up being sued by those given to.
We live in interesting times, indeed, with or without the February rain.
I saw the man again. He had moved some twenty steps away now, toward the public park in the south.
Christ, I say, more to myself than to Christ. I see men being beaten, and there are more now in Honolulu, in parks, on street pavements, at the Aala Park.
So much for what one says about male privileges and entitlements.
Februar 22, 2012