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I have this App on my phone for writing prompts through the Writing.com website. Sometimes when I feel like exercising my brain I click on this and see what opportunities for tales pop out of the Pandora’s box. Today, amongst a few others, it offered me the above, of which I took a screen shot.

Most who would look at this prompt would think of happy memories and fun and jovial life. At least I should think so. But it didn’t really conjure happy memories or tales at all for me.

It reminded me of a rainy night many years ago. I, with my sisters and another friend had gone for a girls night out in the city (Sydney). I don’t really recall whether we were going to a restaurant to eat, or whether we were returning. Either way, oblivious to all those trolling the city we were wrapped in our conversations and walking down rain soaked, luminous streets. And in that cocktail of traffic noise and people, I remember hearing something so out of place that it has stayed with me still.

A sound of completely out of tune recorder. It was coming from up ahead as we waited for the signal to turn green. I could see the shadowed figure of a man, at least 6 feet in height, his shoulders slouched, his elbows tucked by his side as he played the wind instrument, terribly.

The light turned green and we started crossing the street, drawing closer to the man. I must have been staring and stalling, something in me felt great sorrow for the man, but my sister nudged me ahead and told me to keep moving, that we don’t know what he is like. So, I glanced once more at the man and kept pace with my group.

There are a number of homeless in any city, so I guess I shouldn’t have been so shocked at seeing one more face to blur into the city streets. So why was I impacted by one homeless soul, that till this day I see the scene vividly?

Here is what I saw that night. The man’s clothes were fairly clean, his dressing sense was present, he was clean shaven, all things you wouldn’t think a homeless person possessed the luxury of. Yet, there he was, busking, begging for money playing a cheap toy recorder that was yellow in color, soaked. But amongst all this, it were the two small streams of tears running down his face, his hiccuping shoulders as his sobs escaped, and his lonely presence, whom I dare say was broken hearted, standing as if abandoned by the side of the road.

All I remember is that this man was crying, not to show anyone, but he was really crying because something told me that that may have been his first time without a home. No place to go, no one to meet. All he had that night was his sorrow and a plastic toy he half heartedly played for no other reason than to be able to feed himself. He didn’t look at anyone, nor did he stop them. For that moment he was simply a man standing on the side of the street crying his heart out.

Now, why am I telling you this, and what does this have to do with the prompt? Because, for some reason the prompt reminded me of this lonely man on the roadside, and I wondered what his story was. I will never know. But these two things have triggered a story that has turned my head, so please watch this space for a story of those broken lonely souls – it may be fiction what I’m writing, but I would like to dedicate it to that man.

Coming soon (in a day or two) a short story of the ‘world’s happiest man’ in: Million Smiles for June.