This man just came out of the woods.
Typing on my laptop, I turned around, and there he was, proudly smiling through his missing front teeth. Resting his cigar in his mouth, he opened the filthy see-through plastic sheet in his bamboo basket, earth-brown water spilling on the floor, and showed off his ware:
a bright yellow honey comb. I jerked back expecting bees to emanate, yet the beauty of nature’s symmetry and the bright yellow glow made this image shine through the roughness of the man’s appearance. Suddenly I realised the air of pride, effort and determination this man exuded.
Hunger and Determination
Bare-foot, ragged, unwashed and at one with nature, he’d gone into the woods with a will to return only with something that could sustain his existence. Honey it is. I realised the luxury that was being bestowed on me, the unexpected arrival of an unprocessed treasure, at home I’d have to go to a supermarket and sift through the shelves to find the kind that’s organic, sustainable and all that good stuff. Here, it’s being extracted before my very eyes. Agreeing on a price for a portion, whatever that was going to be – a whole litre bottle as it turned out – the man got to work, washed his hands, broke the comb, and out poured the golden liquid into a silver bowl, which the ladies knew how to pour into a plastic water bottle that was emptied into this endeavour for the purpose. I asked to have it boiled, to be safe, and was assured that filtering would do. Again the ladies got onto it, and within an hour I had a clear, bright yellow bottle on my table waiting for an application. The staff warned me that it’s heating, even for them; I found that hard to believe given their spice addiction. As it happened it was just fine for consumption, a natural sweetener, not too concentrated, untreated.
I looked up to the man as he was pouring the liquid. Happiness and relief of finding a procurer of his wares, a justification of his efforts, shone through his weathered demeanor. How long he’d been out there I had no clue; it must have been more than a day, at least the ordeal seemed to have been intense judging by his sense of achievement. Sa pi pi la, I asked him if he’d eaten. No, of course not, his friendly smile suggested. Ordering a portion of fried rice, I made him a coffee while he waited. He was keen to return to his village, barefoot on the stony path. A last wave of goodbye conveyed the happiness his odyssey had brought him. I returned to my laptop.