His fingers tap the table at his side, rhythmic but not with any tune. An absent-minded comment on his lot, sitting in this chair bereft of choice. The room is small and jaded, marked by dust, with furnishings from another age. Not his , of course, just a place to sit.
Dressed in a suite once smart, now tired, with a shirt ironed but worn he sits and looks toward the window pane. All he sees are roofs and slender chimney pots. Sometimes they smoke but more often not. His life, once full of love and crowded with events has pared down to this impoverished solitude. An old radio plays a range of tunes. Some he knows but more of them does not. Each day the same, unloved unknown, he sits there picking at his finger nails.
He has a daughter, there is her photograph, now married but living far away: abroad in fact and busy with her life. Once or twice a year she writes. Always polite he can’t express his need and prattles on about the price of bread. Pride in himself is really all he’s got. His pension decimated by events, he lives on benefits: at least they pay the rent. He can walk of course, but not very far, brew his tea and heat a tin of soup.
His daughter, now in middle age, has children and worries of her own. Her husband is not rich and nor is she. They get by but not by very much. She does think of her dad and worries about his plight. He has no phone so letters must suffice, though posting them is difficult for him now. So far away, that man who gave her life, and sang to her while she sat on his knee.
In his mind he still has many friends though most of them have long since passed away, or like him cling to shrunken lives just nodding at events. There is no change in sight: just isolation and the news. This life, once crowded with events and army memories from a forgotten war. Smiling slightly he remembers the parade: stepping forward as the General pinned some medal to his chest. Lost in a drawer among his bits and pieces: some photographs, a letter from his son, killed in a road accident long ago. Apart from these there is little left to show. His plans and dreams have ended in this place.
So some live, largely lost to view, making no comment on their circumstance. Migrating families leaving them adrift and clinging to survival with shreds of dignity and “what must be must be”. In their prime they lived another life, full of event and responsibility, but life’s cruel twist has cut them off from hope and left them clinging to their memories.
As we walk down the street, past houses history unknown, perhaps inside is lived a life like this. Up in the roof far from worlds eye view :may be our future whose to say. So I think of them, these ancient folk, walled up lives with their memories. We, thinking ourselves civilised have swept these people from our daily lives, parked in bedsits or lined up in some home in states our “savage” ancestors would wonder at and sigh.