abuse, bag lady, Bill, fate, homeless person, journey, loss of identity, metaphor, Parliament, pillow, power, shower, tiger, tramp
Cometh the Shower, Cometh the Man – the plight of the homeless
Four walls, three windows, two doorsteps front and back, one roof. Zero! Countdown to loss and a loss so profound it has no bounds. Too difficult to contemplate the rate at which this loss creates the fate of anyone of us. Because we are not immune, to any of the fates that wait unseen ready to pounce without fore-warning. Crouching like a tiger, amongst the foliage of life, breathing soft, aloft the cares, concerns and worries of it’s prey, it leaps and you become the very thing you toiled and sweated to avoid: the homeless person, the bag lady, the tramp.
When you lose your home, to a great extent, you lose yourself. Your identity forged on the furnace of the place from which you come. You lose yourself. You lose your rights. You lose your body, becoming visibly invisible for others see you but choose not to acknowledge you, because you don’t have an address. An address, sought after, a number placed upon a door, a number which identifies you and shouts: this is where you can find me on any given day at any given hour, for this is where I live.
Paula* talking on the radio, loud and clear for all to hear. No longer a statistic but a person with a place to call her own. When she opened her front door, I can’t tell you how her spirit soared. Soared to heights it’s hard to describe. She speaks of stepping in the shower in which she spent over an hour, no water saving there! An hour in the shower, is a luxury for a woman who lost the power to shower for longer than she cares to say. Sleeping on a pillow became the stuff of dreams. She slept for as long as she wanted, her head resting on a pillow. The joy, the pleasure to sleep at leisure when one has slept on a cold pavement with fresh air for a pillow and fresh air for a blanket cannot be denied.
To clear the streets and house the homeless they talked of Bills and Parliament. Talk of cross-party support was vital: to get the Bill through Parliament. This becomes a burning issue. Reasons for homelessness are mooted. Domestic violence cited and indicted. Domestic violence stands accused, for who would choose to lose their home? Who would choose to lose their identity? Who would prefer to walk the streets, alone, afraid, if Domestic violence at first charming, so disarming, becoming outraged, impossible to assuage had not moved in and changed the locks on their front door?
*Dedicated to “Paula” who spoke of her plight of homelessness and the part domestic violence played on BBC Radio 4, in London. Enjoy your shower, Paula!