I was once sitting in a traffic signal while I was a teenager, still living in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is a common scenario to be approached by beggars or the flower girls at your car window, while you sit in your air-conditioned suede seats and complain about traffic.
On one evening, and only on that evening in my life to this date, a man in early to mid 20s approached the window of my car, offering roses for a price. Dirty white shirt, unkept hair and lack of nutrition was apparent all over his face, as was the case with all others who were selling flowers for five cents, hoping for one meal a day. But something caught me off guard as he spoke. As he spoke, this young man in dirty clothes, he spoke like a gentleman. His voice poised, his pronunciation flawless and his demeanor humble, yet direct. I looked up and noticed his face, to find absolute decency beaming from his soul, through eyes so earnest it cut my air-conditioned bubble like a knife.
He noticed my started look, as my voice shook, "No...". He stepped away and dropped his eyes. His chest was held high, like one determined to live with dignity that only comes from a dignified soul, irrespective of the appearance of his life. He walked towards the next car, offering his roses for a price. And for a brief moment his eyes shortly gazed back my way, at my still startled face. There was clear pain in his eyes - perhaps he felt vulnerable because I saw through, or may be it was through my arrogant prejudice that he saw through.
The beauty of this strange soul still haunts me today. I hope his dignity has been preserved, I hope his determination was not in vain. I hope his heart is light, may be we will meet again, in another life, at a different time, and there will be no price to be paid for roses.