I saw a girl yesterday
24 April, 2014
Technically, I heard her long before I saw her, but it’s largely irrelevant. She had a strong voice, far stronger than was needed to fill every corner of the underground passage which I was crossing to catch a taxi home on the other side. Long dirty hair, dusty clothes, a shabby guitar, a bag on the ground with a few coins in it and a voice to break walls with.
I don’t know who she was and I didn’t want
to interrupt her singing with questions. An unruly brat kicked from her house; a junkie who exists from one fix to another; a runaway from an abusive family; a rich parents’ rebellious kid who lives the dream of independence; a mouth that parents can’t afford to feed – she could’ve been anyone. Fifteen or sixteen years old, thin like a skeleton and reeking of sweat.
But all these were afterthoughts. What struck me first and most was the look she gave me when I approached. These huge, bloodshot eyes with black bags underneath looked at me with such an unnerving half-grateful, half-scared way that I flinched. Needless to say, I walked home that evening.
On my way back home, I saw happy couples dining at restaurants, people driving expensive cars, chattering shoppersbrowsing shops far above my pay grade. They laughed, smiled, joked and hugged each other; a huge, jovial crowd. Yet right beneath them there stood a girl who sings 80’s rock hits for a piece of bread and sleeps on a dirty rag.
The funniest thing about this is that even if this girl was in the middle of the street, this happy crowd would still ignore her. Yet if anyone questioned their morality in this regard, they would grab pitchforks and torches and lynch him right there. Of course they are kind, generous and selfless, raised with trademark Georgian values of benevolence and charity. Some of them even adopted stray puppies, expressed their (verbal) support for starving African children and posted sakura branches in social networks in solidarity with victims of Fukushima catastrophe. The homeless girl with a guitar gets none of this clemency, however. Why, might you wonder?
Because they can see her, hear her and touch her. She is a living reminder of what can happen to anybody, and they don’t like it one bit. All these hip self-important peacocks with smartphones and shiny cars might one day end up depending on nothing but a worn guitar and their voice in order not to starve. And just like them, people would walk by without sparing them even a glance.
So next time whenever you feel the need to brag about things you own, gorge yourself on an obscene meal or flaunt your holier-than-thou attitude, stop for a moment and listen: somewhere not too far away, you might hear a strum of strings and a gentle, albeit slightly tired, voice singing “I Want Out”.

By Zura Amiranashvili