Whenever I feel bitter, the picture of a man I had encountered way back in college, makes me think again. It was just another ordinary afternoon (that turned out to be otherwise) on my boarding house when I heard a plucking of a guitar, a rather unusual sounding music with vernacular lyrics. I headed for the door to track the source of the sound. As I slowly opened it, I had to wince at the sight unfolding
before me. An old man in tatters, probably in his seventies was sitting at the doorstep, carrying an instrument that appeared to be a guitar. Two grimy little kids accompanied him. But my attention was soon focused on him. I noticed that his eyes were closed and somehow realized he was blind. I surveyed him more closely. The guitar was most likely made of junk materials. I began to realize why the sound he created was a bit different. The guitar’s body seemed to be made out of a metal bucket that was already a little bit
rusty. The sound board, of old plywood. The neck appeared as if it didn’t really belong there, it seemed to be taken from another old guitar which was perhaps already broken. The tuning screws, apparently, were crafted by some not so skilled wood-carver. Nevertheless, whoever made that musical instrument was somehow one talented person. I lookedat his arms but couldn’t see his hands, and it just hit me that he didn’t have hands after all. His left wrist was inserted to a small glass container and that was what he used to stop the strings to get the correct pitches. A plastic band surrounded his right wrist- attached to the band was a smaller version of a pick which he used to pluck the nylon-stringed guitar. I listened closely to the vernacular lyrics and they sounded more like of a folk song- telling the story of a man who had encountered all the tribulations in life but was still hopeful, and thankful to God that despite those, he still existed. Was he referring to himself? Perhaps… I stared and listened in awe as he created beautiful music using his wrists, his makeshift guitar, and his frail yet determined voice. He sang the song beautifully as if it came from the heart, and for a moment, I was lost there. I know he didn’t see me but I could tell he could feel my presence. Eventually, I searched my pocket and found what I was looking for. One of the kids approached me and I handed it to her. Then she went to the old man and gently patted him on the back. The song ended. Carefully, he stood, searched for the kids’ hands, and then left with some grateful words for me.
I wish I could have given something more than that. But I just didn’t know what to do. In exchange for a few coins of money, he left me with a lesson in life.