第22屆英文散文組第三名:A Stroll /ICBM2 Hlalelo Hlophe

作者:Hlalelo Hlophe 【A Stroll】 A stroll down memory lane, a wrong decision made, a consequence suffered, a lifetime of regret, and a frown at the birth of another vain man “Liberty, freedom, full control and self regulation are humanity’s curse”. Ask me why, he turned to me. “Ask me if I care to listen”, I responded. He smiled shyly and began: “With freedom, comes the right to self governance, and with self governance comes the authority of decision making. How we as humans make these decisions, and whether their consequences bear sweet fruits is the thought that we overlook” – said the weary and old lad, as though he knew exactly what he was speaking of. “I had the opportunity to think ahead, make the right choice and secure a brighter tomorrow than the eventuality of my bitter fate”, he convicted himself. “Pride is lethal poison to a man’s soul. Its creeping contamination conquers the pure spirit, inviting an insatiable lust for praise and superiority. Once upon a time, I was indeed the greatest, but now I question myself- is that of any worth? My child, you stand before me, staring at my tattered coat and coarse hands, as sit on this window seal day after day, desperate for the rusty penny that the ‘great people’ of today dare to chuck at my cold, yet melting with blisters feet. You stand in doubt, contemplating whether or not to pay me any more attention”, he lamented coldly. I stood there, silently assessing the man’s story. By then, he had me- every bit of my attention. “It spoke to me time and time again. So dependent on my dose of praise, I became more and more vain. It spoke to me in the night, in broad daylight, both regular and irregular hours of day, and I still turned the deaf ear to it”, he added with a tone of guilt. “What voice, what voice?” I pleaded, in effort to feed my then keen interest. He slowly raised his wrinkly brow, making direct eye contact. “My conscience”, he said in a quivering voice. “Do you have the slightest clue of what you are becoming? No, you haven’t. You too busy concerned about you, just yourself and your overpowering egos. The world is mine- that’s what you think, huh? And I ask- really? You are a God- that’s what they tell you. Your head gets swollen. You crowd in on yourself, and the circle seems to get smaller, and as anticipated: the pressure rises. And you, you become caught up in the struggle of living up to a name and image that they have defined for you. But, who are they? They dwell in the oasis of your spirit. Do you still not see that the turgor in your head is too much for you to handle. You are a God in your own world. You walk around inconsiderate of whose red carpets you tramp on, climbing ladders not placed for you. Staring into every sunrise with eagerness to seize the day and make your claim on it. You imagine the spotlight just on you, so much so that you turn blind- unable to see what you have become-.SELLFISH, SELF-CENTRED, and RUTHLESS is what you are. Do not ignore these warnings. I repeat, Do not! The influence of the praise takes over. Still deep in your scene of your prime time, those that cease to praise you- you quickly discard. You forget they are your creators. You become part of those that live everyday as if it were their last, utterly without a clue for tomorrow, with absolutely no sense of direction. You possess no vision beyond the draping of who you are today. Those that have been down that road will tell you, it’s… TRAGIC.” A brief moment of utter silence followed. “I live everyday with regrets of how I pretended not to hear this daily speech of caution that came from within”, he said with his lips trembling in anguish. Tears rolled down his ashy cheeks as I handed a dollar to him. He bowed his head in appreciation, rose to his feet and started off down the street. I stood there, completely transformed by a story that I had only raised a measly dollar. But not even I can deny that I was conscious of the fact that my perspective of life would never be the same.

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