I saw an old man by the river.

allison goh
Aug 3, 2014 · 2 min read

I saw an old man by the river. I wonder how he felt to be surrounded by curious tourists, earnest lovers and dispassionate youths that were passing by the streets of Clarke Quay while he stood alone with a bag of empty cans.

I wonder how no one noticed him and he, noticed no one but moved silently, laboriously, from one bin to another. I wonder how much he earned from collecting drink cans. Thin aluminium cans made a neat crushing sound when pressed between the soles of his worn slippers and the hard concrete ground. I wonder how strange he looked, when red, purple and blue strobing lights coloured his hunchback from the pubs behind, packed with people less than half his age. It made a shadow of him–one hand with the trash bag, another with a metal tong -like almighty Zeus wielding a lightning bolt.

A group of smokers stood precariously beside him, not wanting to go too close yet compelled to stub out their cigarettes properly; they had to be near to the bins where the old man was. I wondered what they thought of the old man. At that moment, the shadow stopped hovering, his crooked back straightened and lit a cigarette for himself. It was a shadow of youth.

    allison goh

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