Project. 4 Days and 4 Nights as a Homeless. Catalin Ciuculescu. Part 4

Original in Romanian here – http://www.catalinciuculescu.ro/4-zile-si-4-nopti-pe-strada/

Catalin Ciuculescu

source – http://www.catalinciuculescu.ro

6. I met again the guy whom I shared the two pieces of fried chicken with, in the very first day when everything started… He said ‘Hi’ and asked how I was, then he advised me to take care, the ‘community police’ is around… He told me also ‘Go there, the repented are spending food!’ He detailed me how to reach that place. I crossed the street and saw a very old woman, with a severely bent back… I stopped in front of her, and had to bow way down to see her face… She was hauling a carry-on luggage… We were reached by the lady that crossed the street… She offered herself to help the old lady… The old woman was going too at that place where ‘the repented are spending food”…
The lady that passed the street asked me if I was going to eat there too… ‚Yes’, I replied… She asked me a lot of questions, including how I was, where I came from, where I were sleeping overnights… She told me that God’s Holy Spirit told her that there was something about me… I felt so happy of the favor of the Lord… She went with me, holding her on my arm, up to the place where they were dishing out the food, and kept talking… She presented me to the brothers who shared the food with a childlike joy… They were all from different churches, and I told myself that this was a genuine ministry, the place where a Pentecostal, a Baptist, an evangelical Christian, a charismatic one, or whatever Christians there might be, crosses the boundaries and work all together to serve his neighbor, because they all love God …
I am already known among some of those living on the streets… I met the man who wanted to share his cream cheese the first night, and a couple of others which I met before… Petrica, the one who came with the idea of helping the homeless, was talking and praying for them… A rogue one was drawing more attention… I asked him to speak more quietly, because I wanted to hear ‚what that man has to say, since he is saying he was once on the streets too”… He saw my tawny neck cloth… ‚Give me that,’ he told me… And he put it gladly around his neck… Then he kept talking loudly… I asked him again to stop talking that loud… He took me aside and shared me his life story… He was having a handicap and he cannot control it, he wanted to kill himself, but didn’t succeed, and now he is doing some things he doesn’t really want to… He asked about my name, where I was living, and where I came from… ‚Catalin, I am from Oltenia and I sleep in the train-station’, I told him… He went quickly and brought another boy with him… They came both and Ionut (this was his name) started doing something very moving thing for me… He told the one he brought along where I was from, where I was sleeping, and that I was a poor fellow… He asked him if they were able to do something for me that I don’t have to sleep in the cold anymore… The boy didn’t hesitate and said he was going to help me… He wanted to give me a bed in the ruins where they were sleeping, in the former police building… He told me that, if I desired so, during the day, I could go there and sleep, because he was giving me a bed… I was moved deeply in my heart…
At least three of them asked me if I received an order number for the food… I didn’t, because I still had a half loaf of bread and some sandwiches in the raffia bag… I told them I would get one after all of them had… My Ionut went up to the front of the line, at Petrica, the one who coordinates the whole action, and asked for a serving for me… Petrica, knowing my story, looked at me… I waved him, smiling, and bowing my head… I was standing on a brick… Ionut came to me with 4 warm cabbage-rolls in a disposable plate… He bent over to me and put it in my hand …
The ‚cream-cheese’ man came over to me… He asked me if I didn’t want some more, he was willing to go to bring some to me… I asked him only for a slice of bread, because Ionut forgot to bring me some… He reached in his plate and took 2 slices… And they fell on the ground… He apologized… ‚No problem,’ I said, and I ate with him sitting next to me… He saw I had no more bread and he gave me quickly two more slices from his portion… He went for another 3 rolls for me, without having me asking him for that… I thanked him, but I had plenty, so those 3 were his then …
The one who gave me the slices of bread asked me why I was sitting with the empty plate in my hand and why I don’t throw it away… I told him that I wanted to take it to a trash bin… He took it from me and disposed it himself… Another one said I am ‚one of the respectful,’ while he smiled… Someone got thirsty… The man who took my plate to the trash bin gave him a mouthful of surgical spirit… I asked him if that wasn’t harmful for him, after he’d just eaten…’ Why are you asking such stupid questions… This is no harm for me, not before, and not after meals’… I felt sorry for him… Then, he asked if I didn’t have some water… I gave him my one-pound-bottle, a quarter full… We said good-bye and wished one another good health… I found another dirty bottle, only half full, on the street’s border… I took it in my bag… In the park, I met another friend who didn’t recognize me, only after I smiled to him… We made some photos, while some people watched as amazed… He left me some money… I can buy myself a ticket… I don’t think I’ll buy one to “Baile Calacea”… Aaa, I got a turtleneck cloth from Petrica… It does as the tawny neck cloth…
7.
I left the park and went to the downtown cathedral… Before I got there, I ‚met’ someone other’s eyes… I was in the market… He watched me intensely… I looked at him too… He bowed his head, as a salute… So did I… I made a ‚mental shot’ and I analyzed it on my way… It was the man in the orthodox church who turned back in his way to say hello and ask me how I was… He remembered… I was glad he didn’t forget one like me …
They read something from Peter’s epistles at church… They said something about some don’t-know-which saints, some martyrs, or whatever, but this is the second part… I took for myself everything that was good, that emphasized God… On the left chair was sitting a pretty old homeless man, on the right one, another one… The one on the left fell asleep at some point, and started to snore… I look to the one on the right and ask him if I am to wake him up… He shrugged and the corners of his lips went downwards… It was distressing to some who already watched him… I touched just enough for him to feel it… I told him his snoring was audible… He took a guilty, heavy breath in with a long ‚i’ and said ‚thanks’… I laid my forehead on my left hand… I instantly fell asleep… I hope I didn’t snore… I woke to the end of the mass, when people were ‚communicating’… I wanted to be at the Lord’s Supper too, but I saw people kissing the icons before and after they took the wine-drenched bread from the priest’s hand, so I changed my mind …
I went to the mall… There is some place outside where they blow warm air… I stayed there till I warmed up… I went further and told myself, let’s go in… I sat on a soft chair and waited someone to come and show me out… Everything felt like a different world, not assorted to the way I looked… Luckily, no one showed me out and I left willingly …
Afterwards, I slept for one and a half hour on a bench in the park… Your back hurts because of so much walking and sitting on chairs, so you feel like lying down… I woke up and went to the train station… I didn’t buy a ticket to “Baile Calacea” this time… I bought one to „Remetea Mare”… Oddly, because it cost 4 Ron as well… I thought it would be cheaper …
In the waiting room there was a boy I know, Alexie… He used to ‚go for’ the girl I liked some years ago… This boy was a ‚character’, sending her kisses and telling her she was beautiful, while I was next to her… After a while, he exited the waiting room… I went after him to say hello and to tell him who I was… There was someone else who went outside to smoke and I didn’t want to tell him that quite there, so I touched his jacket and made him a sign to follow me aside… He glowered at me and went swiftly back inside… ‚ Hey, wait a second, I want to tell you something,’ I told him, struggling heavily not to laugh… He gave me another look and went quickly inside… I was staying outside and couldn’t stop my laughing… I was seeing him watching me fiercely through that window and couldn’t stop laughing… After a couple of minutes, several times, I started to go back in the warmed up room, but each time I got close to the door, I started laughing again… In the end, I made it in, I managed to take my seat, thinking I probably was that atrocious, since he gave me such a black look … Eaahh, it was really interesting…

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