When did I first see Samson? I can’t say for sure, for the lines that ran horizontally on his forehead have melded with those of the window of my room, which has been my favorite place to stare at while brooding over the subject of life for as long as I can remember. Every morning, I take some time to drink a glass of milk and cast a glance through the window at the the scarcely-populated street and its passersby, those early birds who most often are students, street cleaners loading the trailers they tow behind their crappy bikes with empty plastic bottles, and joggers, who seem to possess a gift for standing in the way of those rushing to the office.
Before leaving the house in the afternoon, I brush my hair, make a few phone calls and drink a cup of coffee. He was always there when I stepped out into the street, sitting on the pavement close to the garbage bin and dressed in the same old rags. We had almost become friends, for the lack of a better word. We didn’t hold long conversations, but that is only because he wasn’t all that chatty. I discovered that the first time I got him breakfast, some quiche with boiled eggs and tomatoes. I used to fetch him something to eat every morning. I liked to take care of him. I would drop the bag of food next to him and leave. I didn’t want him to feel pressured to express gratitude.
Tons of different people approach the green container next to the tourism office the window of my room faces every day. Samson, however, knew how to stick out. Once I noticed him leaning over the container. He seemed to be looking for something. That is when I realized we had something in common, me and him: we both were searching for something we couldn’t find, probably because we hadn’t yet been able to pinpoint the exact nature of what we felt we were missing.
I call him Samson because he reminded me of the biblical figure with his long and curly hair, his shaggy beard and his sturdy frame. I gave him that nickname the day I saw him, parked in his usual spot, perusing the newspaper on his lap while twisting his face into a grimace of disgust. To me, it just seemed so ironic that the paper, of all things, had the power to make him fret over how messed up the world is, that I thought he had earned a caricatural moniker.
One morning, I looked out the window and saw that he was gone. I grabbed the bag with his breakfast anyways and headed outside. Then, as I started walking, I saw that a crowd had collected next to the entrance of the tunnel that lies just a few meters away from my house. I joined them to see what the fuss was all about. I had to stand on my tiptoes and stretch my neck to get a view of what was going on. That is when I finally caught sight of him. He was sprawled on the pavement, close to the other end of the tunnel. I would have thought he was asleep if it weren’t for the fact that he was lying in a pool of blood.
I heaved a deep sigh and told the guy standing next to me, “That was my friend Samson.”
He turned to look at me and replied in a plaintive voice, “Yeah, he was my friend as well.”
The Author, Rima Raii:
Syrian writer and journalist with two published short-story collections: And Finally, the World Smiled and Good Things Come to Those Who Wait.