Short Story Excerpt: A Laughing Matter
I had not paid much attention to a disheveled man who had boarded the bus at about the same time with us. He spoke slowly but articulately in clear tones, describing himself as an insurance loss adjuster in a previous life. According to him, things had started to go sour for him when his infant daughter got ill and was diagnosed with a terminal illness. His narration of how she was in a local hospital struggling for her life struck a chord with me, and my heart went out to him. It was not unusual to see grown men begging for assistance on the public buses. Many people responded positively to his request for contributions to help him to buy some much needed medication for his daughter. He was seated a couple of rows ahead of me, and when he turned to receive my contribution, I could not help but notice how familiar his face was.
I tried to wrap my mind around the fact that the gentleman who had narrated a heartbreaking story with such brilliant eloquence could actually be a con artist, who at this very moment could be using the money that he had dubiously extracted from well-meaning individuals to fuel some hopeless desire for alcohol. Yet why did he look so familiar? Where could I have seen him before?
‘A Laughing Matter‘ is the second story in ‘Terra Cotta Beauty’ by Jola Naibi