My Forty Minutes with Nik Mohammad

I walked on the Q train, tired and achy after a night out with friends and was lucky enough to find a seat.  I was so anxious to sit that I didn’t realize I had sat down next to a rather smelly homeless man.  I sat for a minute and contemplated moving.  Just when I had decided to make a move, he turned to me and said, “You smell nice – sorry, I know I smell bad.”  My heart sunk.  How could I move after that?  I couldn’t.  He went on to say how much he enjoyed the scent of  a woman.  He said he hated to smell women that drown themselves in cheap perfumes.  He seemed disgusted as he said it.  I laughed.  His name was Nik Mohammad; he was an older man from Afghanistan.  He told me about his travels and how he lost his entire family in bombings.  I held my breath in intervals as he spoke because he seemed to be enjoying having someone to talk to for a bit – and I was enjoying hearing his stories.  I could see once upon a time he was a handsome man, but time and circumstance had left him beaten and battered looking.

He said, “I wish I was younger,” as he kind of gazed out to nowhere.  ”I wish I could meet someone, but I am so tired.  I don’t sleep.  I can’t sleep.  I am very tired.”

It made me instantly sad.  No human being should be deprived of something so basic as sleep… and love.  I could tell he was very lonely and in pain.

I told him I only had two more stops to go and he said, “No no no – don’t say that.”  I dug into my wallet for some singles and he begged me not to.  He said he wasn’t talking to me because he wanted money. I told him it would make me happy if he took the money.  He said,”I am very shamed.”  I placed the money in his hand and he wished me many blessings.

I happened to have the perfume I was wearing that sparked our initial conversation, in my bag.  I took off my Pashmina and spritzed some perfume on it.  I told him I wanted him to have it.  He looked at me with a huge smile and shook his head as if to say he couldn’t accept it – but he did.  I prepared myself to get off the train.  He thanked me profusely and told me that Allah would bless me.

Although I felt very sad leaving him, it made me happy to think that maybe I sparked a little happiness inside of him – even if just for a forty minute train ride.





Vanessa xoxo

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