Outstretch Hand: A true story written by Aleksander Jovanovic from Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia
HE HELD OUT HIS HAND
Who is this man? Oddly dressed.
With outstretched hand. He wants something?
I live in Serbia. In the old Roman capital - Sremska Mitrovica. The small town with its rich culture and history. Four times it has been the capital of the Roman Empire. Many emperors were born here. Once, we were the strongest industrial city. And now? Picture says it all.
"The European Union, we will be better, let's go there!" Very often, these words resound on the TV, the radio, in parliament. But I do not believe in fairy tales. Not just me, but and this old man, a beggar, who is eating from a trash container when we met, he thinks differently .
In my town, all the factories are closed. Young people are in confusion. Many want to go out of our country. They're looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. Do you have choise? Where is the light?
The answer to the question, I received an unexpected, one summer day when I accidentally stumbled upon this beggar. What's the response been?
When I was at the primary school, often times through the window I saw this man, hunched, how he pushing wheelchair, he try found at the container something, filled with a sack and put on his back and continued to walk. Often, I asked others people, who he is, but no one knew the answer. And, 15 years later, I ran into him. The "meeting" was unexpected. I recognized him immediately.
Little man. Hunched. Torn clothes. Holey shoes.
I was about to go to the beach. He stood in the container. I felt the strong stench. I approached him. He looks scared.
"Hello, I want to greet you. Do you need anything. Maybe the shoes, money? Or food?"
Sad eyes and a slight smile, he replied: "No boy, I don't need, you need the money."
I was astonished. I took out all the money I had, and gave it to him. He did not want to take. I was surprised and asked why. He was silent. And he watched me. Sad sight ..
"But take this money, really, I want to help you," I told him. And, after a few minutes, an old man, held out his hand. At that moment, my heart broke. I was happy. But, sad. Strange feeling.
I asked him to tell me something about his life. He grew up with his brother who always humiliated him. In school, he was frequently belittled. He was marginalized in society.
At one point he said: "There will not God help us, and He left us." Strange, but he seemed happy and satisfied.
"Do you have help from the city, municipality, anyone?" I asked him. He looked at me, with tired eyes and replied: "No, no one has ever helped me. I'm struggling through with life."
I'm speechless. Why? Beside me stood a man who I've seen many times in my life. He was always in a hurry, always he pulled some old stuff from the container and quickly left place. Now, he looked so peaceful and happy to be talking with someone.. I was never able to learn more about him. Now, I had the opportunity. And, I decided to help him.
I went home. I sat on the bed and thinking. I decided.
I called my little brother and asked him to help me. We took from my room one bed and two armchairs. I found out where is his house. When we went there, we were speechless. A man was sitting at the entrance in demolished house and he ate the bone. Beside him, passed by a rat. There is no electricity and no water. One horror scene, unbelievable. I was surprised.
We gave him a bed and two armchairs. He looks very happy. I promised him that I would bring him some things when you collect. We turned around and left.
And, brother and I, we were imagined. We walked on the street.. We kept quiet..
I was thinking. About what?
About my city.
Where did it go humanism? Where is a good people? What happened to us?
The answer lies in the us, deep inside and in open and outstretched old and feeble hand of this man.
One summer day, changed my life.
Serbian Patriarch Pavle said: "Let us be men."
Humanity has no price.
For more inforation on Aleksander Jovanovic and his martial arts school in Serbia "Wing Chun Kung Fu Mali Zmaj" please email us at Bridgestoserbia@gmail.com