By Tahera Uddin
Student, Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics

I sat across from a man in a NYC subway who stood out from everyone else. It wasn’t how he was dressed, what he was saying or doing that caught my attention. This man was sad. Very sad. There are a lot of unhappy people in a subway, but the look on this man’s face was haunting. I couldn’t stop looking at him, and after I hopped off at my stop, I couldn’t stop thinking about him.

Everyone has a story, and the thought of this man’s story captured my curiosity. What led him to this place? Why is he so sad? I closed my eyes, and suddenly I saw his story began to unfold in my mind. This is that story:

He looks pained
Staring down at the large amount of letters that consists mostly of the bills from that month.
He’s on the train.
He has no time because his life is too rushed.
Back then he had too much time partying and doing things that the elders would have thought were too extreme.
He regrets it all.
The things that passed by
Without him really realizing
How important they were going to be in the very near future.

The people he had let slide through his fingertips.
He regrets it.
He wishes that he was still living in the past and that he was forever young.
Oh how he wishes he can go back in time.
But he can’t go back and that’s what bothers him.
He regrets his past
But the thing is that if he were to go back, he would never have found his purpose.

He looks up and he sees the familiar sign:
Bryant Park.
As he was getting off the train he thinks
“Where did I go wrong?”
This question, surrounding his head,
makes him forget all the passing bodies on the busy streets of New York City.
He sees the park and enters the new peaceful environment.
He lays down on the grass and stares at the sky.
With the sky he can think of anything and not be wrong.
That’s how he wishes life was.
Never being unfair towards him.
If life was fair, he would have never felt all the emotions that he felt in the past:
The sadness, the regret, the depression, the rare moments of happiness, and the feeling that he yearned for, the feeling of being wanted.

As he looks next to him, he sees something.
A homeless man sleeping on the ground,
with no shoes and with a single cup
collecting loose change from the passing people.
He realizes that he isn’t the only one going through this.
There are other people who have it way worse than him.
He doesn’t regret just laying there on the grass thinking about life
or worry that he was wasting time.
With all this thinking about his past
He found his meaning in life:
To not regret but to progress.

He can still live a little longer on this earth.
He doesn’t know when life will end for him because that is unpredictable.
Not knowing is a beautiful part of life.
To live life in an uncertain time,
To get a rush of adrenaline knowing that he’s always living on a thin line,
Until his very last breath, he’s going to work hard for a new chapter in his life.
That new chapter will be full of the unexpected
because life always has it’s purpose uniquely assigned for each individual.

He gets up from the green grass and he begins walking.
He realizes that the worrying thoughts are no longer surrounding his head.
He feels more comfortable in his skin.
The sun is setting but it feels like a new day, and he can’t help but smile.