There was once an old man who used to sit on the same park bench every time I
walked by. I would go out for a morning jog, and there he was, sitting on the same
bench as always. There were times when I wondered if this man was homeless.
Knowing that he showed up out of nowhere, wearing only old dirty clothes, sitting on the
bench like always, I had figured that was who he was. Every time I walked by, he was
never drunk nor caused any trouble—just a frail old man with nowhere to go sitting on
One morning I was curious about the type of man he was, so I sat next to him for the
first time. His fingers were boney, and his hair was thin and gray. His attire consisted of
a beat-up brown, leather jacket, baggy sweatpants, and sneakers. The heel of his foot
was exposed by his worn shoes. Despite his current situation, his expression was
peaceful and gave me a wry smile as I sat next to him. I asked how his day was and if
he was cold from the morning weather. He responded that the chilly morning was
refreshing for him as he liked hearing the morning birds going about their business
around him. Then I asked him if he was in some sort of financial trouble. I felt bad
asking the obvious, but I wanted to know. The old man responded that the world was
his home and he was resting at the park because he liked the scenery. He told me that
ever since he was a young boy, it was a dream of his to travel the world without
constraints. Despite his frail body, he was enjoying what the world had to offer. His eyes
crinkled like paper remembering whatever memory he had in his mind.
Then out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that he had a piece of thread sticking out of
his jacket. For some reason, I had the bright idea of pulling it out for him. I started
pulling it, and the old man widened his eyes and told me that there was no need to do
so. I did not listen and kept on pulling. It was endless. The thread, still in one piece, was
unwinding his whole jacket. It was magical, but the old man wanted me to stop. He used
his frail hands to push my arms away, which was of no use as his hands had the
strength of leaves. I kept on pulling and pulling. The string still in one piece seemed to
be unwinding the whole man himself! I could not stop. I wanted to know what would
happen next. Tears escaped the old man’s eyes. He begged. I did not stop. Soon the
old man was gone. What was left of him was a single unwinded string in a bunch that
consisted of the old man. I was done. I picked up the loose bunch of string, rolled it up
in a tight ball, and tossed it in the park’s trash bin.
The old man was gone, and I continued my pleasant morning jog.
The Old Man in Rags