I'm snapping pictures, trying to reach above the small crowd to shoot the speaker. As I lower my camera to look at the preview, I notice in my peripheral vision someone looking at me from below. I turn my head slightly to face her and I see this young woman in a wheelchair.
It takes me a split second to realize what I'm seeing. She is completely disfigured. She wasn't really looking at me, she was probably missing most of her eyelids. Her skin is black and parched like that of a mummy. Of her hands, I guess only mere stubs remain under the long sleeves covering them. I think she's missing a foot.
She has a signboard attached upon her wheelchair that tells her story, I think it says that she is a refugee, and she was the victim of an Israeli bombing. I'm not sure because within one tenth of a second I realize that, not only am I staring at her, but I'm looking horrified. So I turn around and move away.
Dread, shame, utter shame, despair, utter sadness.
I look back, see the back of her wheelchair. I see the person accompanying her, she is talking to her, looks at her lovingly. Probably her mother. She has to be very strong. My eyes are wet.
I try to think of something else. I call a friend who works in the area. He's too busy at the moment. So I decide to go shopping on the Champs Elysees. I see an ad for the iPad. I swore I wouldn't buy one because DRM sucks and all that, but my brother got one and it's an awesome toy. Every store is sold out. I go on a hunt and finally one tiny Apple reseller near Pompidou has one left. Yay.
So I go home, unpack the iPad, plug it in, and here I am, sitting at my desk, and I think of her. I can't think of anything else. Useless me and my stupid toys.
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