I groaned inwards as I realized my mother wouldn’t be able to pick me up from school that day. She had an important meeting at work so she had asked me to walk home. When school ended I looked at the long road ahead and sighed. Even though my home was five blocks away it felt as though it was a million miles away. I strapped on my school bag and started down the road. The sun was at its best behaviour and shining brilliantly down at the world. After a few minutes I felt as though I was being followed. I stopped and turned around.
An elderly lady was hobbling along with her walking stick and two men were moving furniture from a van onto the footpath. It was only when these men slowly moved aside that I saw that there was another man behind them. He was wearing tattered clothes and sported a thick beard. I noticed he was carrying a shovel over his shoulder. For some strange reason he focused his gaze on me and frowned. Before he could say or do anything I turned around and picked up pace. To my surprise he called out to me. I wondered for a second if I should talk to him and find out what he wanted but then I decided against it.
My mother had often warned me not to talk to strangers and this person was definitely a stranger. I continued on ignoring the stranger with the shovel. To my shock and indignation every time I turned to look back he would be there waving at me wildly. I thought to myself that he was most probably an insane homeless man. I tried to hurry home as fast as my legs could carry me. Once I reached home I would call my parents so that they could handle the situation themselves. Even when I reached home the frightening homeless man was several feet behind me.
I hurried inside and locked the door. I peeped from behind the curtains to see what he would do. Instead of coming up to my doorstep he had headed over to my next door neighbours’ home. He took out keys from one of his pockets and unlocked the main door. Several minutes later he appeared again this time in a different shirt. He headed towards the garden carrying the shovel with him. A few minutes later Mrs Ali, the friendly lady who had just moved in at the next door house appeared at the scene holding a tray carrying a glass and a jug of lemonade. It was then that I realized that the homeless’ man was Mr Ali, our new neighbour. I had failed to recognize him because the only time I had ever met him he had been wearing a suit and was clean-shaven. I wondered what he must’ve thought of my rudeness and went over to apologize.