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Aristotle at Afternoon Tea participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. This means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I get a small percentage of its price. That helps support my writing in a small way, so thank you. Happy reading!

© 2014-2018 Yara Zgheib All Rights Reserved

 

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On the Platform

February 15, 2018

She is singing a cappella, on the platform, off key, clearly unaware of that last fact. Her hair must be silver under the grime but I cannot really see past it. Her wrinkles I can see; deep canyon-like streaks running down her face and neck, the rest of her skin hiding from the biting cold under layers of dirty rags.

 

Photo by Rafael De Nadai on Unsplash

 

Her voice, however, is surprisingly soft; it flows out of her throat like pastry cream. Timidly, it fills the cavernous space like a fragrance among the fumes. Limpid, as though she is using it for the very first time in her life:

 

… and I won't ask again

Will you still love me tomorrow?

 

the homeless old woman sings.

 

The busy Sunday crowd studiously, unanimously ignores her, inching further away from her, closer to the edge, looking left, hopefully, for the train.

 

On the Red Line Platform, Harvard Square Station. Destination: Braintree. Overhead: the land that, in 1630, first embodied the American Dream.

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal;

that every citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity,
 

that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;

through hard work and determination, to achieve upward social mobility,

 

that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

A paper cup sits, empty but hopeful, on the bench next to her. She pays no attention to it or the crowd; she sings and rocks along, eyes closed. She even smiles, as she reaches the chorus once again:

 

Will you still love me tomorrow?

 

The question haunts me in the seconds that follow as she catches her old woman’s breath. Can that really be what is on her mind? Other questions reel through my head: Will she still be here tomorrow? Will she and her rags survive the cold? Tonight, will she have anything to eat? Will she have a place to sleep? Will she sleep on the platform bench? Will someone throw her out?

 

Out where? Onto Harvard Square? Onto the land of opportunity? Where the country’s top 1% earns forty times more than the rest? Where 80% of the wealth is owned by 10% of the people? Where Wall Street’s 2016 bonus pool was the same as 3.2 million basic salaries?

 

Social justice is not an abstract theory or a choice. It is an inalienable right, concrete and singing, off key, on the Red Line Platform.

 

The train is arriving; I scramble for change. None in this era of credit cards. It screeches to a stop. The doors open, the crowd moves, drowning out the end of her song.

 

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