CORDOBA old town is a marvel and quite rightly it boasts UNESCO World Heritage status. Every evening the cobbles are washed and scrubbed and the place is gleaming ready for the tourists the following day.
Sitting in a restaurant by the Mezquita I noticed an unkempt man with a far away look in his eyes shuffle inside. He pointed to the bar but the manager showed him the door. We paid the bill and walked the same way as the man had gone. Up ahead I saw him again being turned away from another hostelry. By the time a third person had denied him I had caught up with him.
The poor soul was as thin as a stick, unwashed and carried his few possessions in a two plastic bags. As we stood together outside a shop selling drinks I asked him if he was thirsty and he pointed to a can of fizzy pop so whilst the girl assistant snarled at my insolence for helping him I bought him what he asked for and some water giving him money too.
I walked away but kept turning round and could see him shuffling in the same direction. We were by then sitting at an outside table and enjoying a glass of wine and the waiter brought some tapas.
When the poor man again passed by I asked if he was hungry so he wearily put down his bags and I sat him at the table and he ate the tapas with relish. The waiter at first came to remove him but I stopped him and said ‘he is hungry’. A passing tourist looked with disgust at the man whilst he sat and ate.
When he finished eating he went to the restaurant door and pointed inside. This being the fourth time I had seen him do this. Moments later he departed proudly clutching one of his lifes few pleasures – a packet of cheap fags.
Later on again he again passed and I followed him and caught up with him as he asked a table of diners for a few coppers yet I heard them say they had no money! Pointedly in front of them I pressed another note into his hand and gave him another drink.
The waitress stared and I said to her ‘he is hungry please feed him’ which she ignored. I write this not because I want readers to think of me as a good person giving help to the needy but because this poor man could be anyone of us, or a past friend fallen on hard times. I cannot get the man out of my head and although I looked for him the next day I could not find him as I wanted to do more for him.
According to the New Testament Jesus told Peter he would deny him three times that day, the other disciples also forsook Jesus, all of which to me is comparable to what the restaurant workers did to the poor man in Cordoba, within sight of such holy places as the Mezquita Mosque and the Catholic Cathedral.
Whether or not we are religious matters for nothing, let us all treat our fellow man how we would want to be treated. In East Africa millions starve whilst due to us all winning the geographical lottery of where we were born means we have full bellies and fridges containing yummy treats.
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