02 March, 2007

The no-face guy

There's a lot of things that I wanted to do "one last time" before I leave Saigon, but one of the most important things was to make some sort of peace with the no-face guy.

One day Kenny and I were walking down Le Loi where there are many beggars. Kenny says, "that is one of the saddest looking human beings I've ever seen" and as I turn around I get a glimpse of a man sitting on the curb behind us, with a hat in the hand... and no skin on his face. I wasn't expecting this, and I turned away quickly with shock. I felt scared. The sight of his face (well, teeth and eyeballs and scar tissue) made me feel, and I am not proud of this, like getting out of there as fast as I could. I walked away, shuddering.

A few meters away, I started feeling like I could have handled that better. I turned around to look at the guy again and it wasn't as bad this time.

Over the past few months, I passed the guy every once in awhile and tried to be less afraid. I tried to imagine what might have happened to his face, and my guess is that he was involved in a fire, because what little skin he has left is mottled pink and white.

Anyway, today I saw the guy from across the street, and I decided to assuage my guilt by giving him money. It might have only helped him a little bit, but it helped me a lot. I walked right up, looked him in the eye, smiled, and put some money in his hat. And I felt better.

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