How often have we thought that things were unfair? That life was not worth living?

I am an optimistic person and I often think that things happen for a reason. Yet last week I saw something at the airport of Buenos Aires that keeps giving me nightmares, after a happy vacation in South America.

Picture of Rio de Janeiro Beach taken from the top of the Sugar Loaf Mountain.

Christ the Redeemer, overlooking Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer, overlooking Rio de Janeiro

A young man in his late teens or mid twenty I couldn’t tell for sure because this person was more like a skeleton than a human person, half-lying in a wheelchair. The sight of his bare limbs froze me in place. They were not limbs per say, more like bones, scrambled on the wheelchair as if someone has folded them. His head lay on the side, almost flat, eyes half-open, no expression. A blanket covered only his body curved against the back of the wheelchair, leaving the bones of his thighs and legs exposed.

The contrast between the condition of this young man and the surrounding jumped at me. This was not a miserably poor or needy begging in the streets of India or Egypt because his family or government couldn’t support him. So why was he so wretchedly skinny? The man pushing the wheelchair chatted with a female companion as if he was used to push that wheelchair and its occupant in any environment.

My husband squeezed my hand. “Don’t stare like that.”
I just couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe from shock. Tears flooded my eyes.

What was this young man doing in a crowded airport?  Why was he sitting in a wheelchair?  Why wasn’t he in a hospital bed with medical staff helping him?  How could the man and woman just chat so casually? Were they his parents? Have they given up hope on him ever improving?

I have seen some horrific sights during my many trips abroad, but none that affected me so strongly. I’m trying to convince myself that maybe he was flying to the U.S. to be treated. Help me find an answer to the above questions.

Every time I fly abroad, I return more convinced that we are very, very lucky to live in a great country, whether it’s the U.S. or Canada.

I don’t want to leave you with heart-wrenching feeling. There were many beautiful things I’ve enjoyed in Brazil and Argentina.

Monumento of Los Espanoles in Buenos Aires

Monumento of Los Espanoles in Buenos Aires


Tango in Argentina

I like to set my stories in the various countries I visited.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international

Her last trip leads her to a life-altering mistake.Can he love a woman expecting another man’s baby? Heartwarming story. From KY, FL. & GA to Iraq and Germany.

Her last trip leads her to a life-altering mistake.
Can he love a woman expecting another man’s baby?
Heartwarming story. From KY, FL. & GA to Iraq and Germany.

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15 Responses to Unfair

  1. You have a kind heart Mona.


  2. Jill James says:

    I have a friend who has told me writers are more empathetic as a whole. I hope your ‘what if’ is true and that young man was traveling somewhere for medical help. Bless you, for your heart is big and true.


  3. You do have a big heart, Mona. To see a human being in that condition tears out your heart. Most of the time, people who care for others try to keep a positive attitude around the ailing one to lift their spirits. Let’s hope the poor young man was going for medical aid. We never know what we’ll see that touches our hearts.


  4. monarisk says:

    I have a cousin who has a debilitating disease, Cerebral Palsy. He was born with it. The second of a pair of twins. He was so small they never knew his mother was expecting twins until the delivery. As a result, he lacked oxygen for a few seconds and got CB. Because of the incredible help of his parents, he finished high school, college and law school, and worked as a lawyer. But he was often sick. Now at forty he’s on disability and his condition is worsening. I guess when I saw the young man at the airport I made the connection and it scared me that one day maybe my cousin may end up in a similar shape.


  5. Joan Leacott says:

    Aw, Mona. That’s at tough sight to see. Your cousin won’t end up that because he has family. Here’s a twist–maybe that young man at the airport was actually improving. You never know.


    • monarisk says:

      Hi Joan, sometimes it seems it’s not fair that some have nothing and others have too much. And I’m not talking about money, but about health, happiness, capability,…


  6. susanrhughes says:

    Whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself, I try to think of how lucky I am to have my health, my family and my comfortable life.


  7. monarisk says:

    Susan, you’re a wonderful person. Enjoy your family.


  8. E. Ayers says:

    Oh, Mona, I know exactly how you feel about coming home. As a young girl I often traveled and what I saw is almost unspeakable. Most people have no clue how so many others in this world live. They have no clue. Even our homeless are better off than the working poor in other places. (They choose to be homeless rather than accept help from shelters.) We respect human life.

    The fact that the man in the wheelchair was clothed and blanketed says he was being cared for by someone. Just the fact that he was in an airport probably meant he was going someplace. What caused his condition? I don’t know. But he was breathing on his own and obviously not hooked to IV’s or a bunch of other tubes which means lots of important parts were still functioning.

    We need to be thankful for what we have and that it wasn’t our son, brother, or father in that condition. Our houses are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We have food. We go to the grocery store and face an array of clean, healthy food from which to choose. And although it’s not a perfect system, we still have the best medical care in the world. We think that what we have is the norm. It’s not. Anyone who lives where clean water flows from the taps into the home is lucky.


    • monarisk says:

      Hi E., it’s exactly as you say. The poor here are by far in a better condition than abroad. I’d rather not specify places in order not to offend people. It’s amazing how traveling makes you appreciate home. No, the grass is NOT greener somewhere else.


  9. leighmorgan1 says:

    Dear Mona, I’m not sure what this person was suffering from. It could have been any number of diseases that made him emaciated. Sometimes I don’t know who it’s harder for, the one observing, unable to change the facts as they are, or the one there, not knowing how to explain or relate. When we can’t make the world better, we can imagine it as a better place and, and it’s a big and, we can write about that. Empathy is a double-edged tool. Thank goodness you can make the world better and more aware…yes even through writing romance. I hope you and the recipient of your care and concern are better today than yesterday.


  10. monarisk says:

    Hi Leigh, after I posted yesterday I kind of regretted my post as I realized I may depress the blog readers. But now thanks to all your comments, I think this post made us all appreciate what we have. I like your suggestion: “When we can’t make the world better, we can imagine it as a better place.”


  11. JoanReeves says:

    Mona, I know you are a caring person, and I can understand your being upset by the man’s physical condition. However, I want to present another side to this coin. I don’t think one should assume that a person who is emaciated and frail is by extension neglected and ill-cared for by his family or the community at large. Even people in poor physical condition — as you described — travel and not necessarily to seek medical treatment. They do have lives just like you and me. I have a loved one who is disabled, and you might form the same kind of negative impression if you saw him on one of his very bad days. The fact that other people stare, clearly horrified by a person’s poor physical condition, is why so many people with diseases and disabilities isolate themselves. They long to be treated with as much respect and friendliness as anyone else. Far better to meet their gaze respectfully and smile if that’s what one would do to any person in a public place.


  12. monarisk says:

    Hi Joan, I couldn’t agree more with what you said. Disabled people need and deserve our respect, compassion and prayers.


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