Happy Birthday Jason,

Jason this post is my small gift to you. Happy 30th birthday.

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Today I bumped into someone I met almost a year ago. I was leaving ‘Westfield’, a shopping centre in Stratford. It’s ironic that this encounter is laced by a symbol of materialism. Anyhow, as I walked across the bridge to exit the centre I saw a man I knew I recognised. He was there sitting in the middle of the bridge with his backpack and a hot drink. I approached him and told him that I had spoken to him last summer and whilst he probably doesn’t remember me, I would not forget him.

Last summer I was creating a digital picture as a submission to my friend’s magazine. The theme of the zine submission was ‘Home’, but all I could think about was home-lessness. At the back of my mind this may be what inspired me to create Pray It Doesn’t Rain. I decided to photograph some homeless people and use the portraits for some sort of collage. After having dinner with a friend at Westfield one evening last summer I came across a man I wanted to speak to about my collage. He was sitting in the middle of the same bridge with his backpack and a sign asking for donations. It was cold and I had little to offer but we spoke for some time. Before I left I took his photo and explained the concept behind my project. When I went home I wondered if I would see him again to show him the collage when it was finally completed.

I sorely regretted not getting his name.

So today by some miracle there he was. In the same place in the middle of the bridge. And after almost a year I found out that his name is Jason. I feel that a name is a powerful thing. It’s tied closely to our identity and one thing no one can take away. I gave Jason some biscuits I had in my bag and we spoke for a while. I reminded him about the photo I took of him the last time we met but unfortunately, I did not have a copy on me to show him. I also told him about the film I made recently that sheds light on the problem of homelessness in Oxford. He said he would watch the film using a public computer at a library and also share some of his personal perspectives.

Yesterday was Jason’s birthday. I told him he does not look 30, and he said that I don’t look like I’m 21. He said that last night he spent his birthday crying on that same bridge. It really hurt to hear that. As we were speaking he was wiping blood off of his nose. He told me he had a nasty encounter last night and I can infer that people had attacked him on the bridge. He was assaulted on his birthday. Jason, I’m truly sorry. I’m sorry that people can be cruel and that your situation has not improved since the last time we spoke. I am certain that things will get better by the time we next cross paths, should we meet again.

I have no means of contacting Jason to share this with him so I shall simply leave this in the comments of my film in hopes that he may see it one day. The photo at the start of this post is the collage that I mentioned earlier. I hope you can now finally see the result. The details of the photo are well thought out (inspect it closer to see a few) but I can’t deny that the end product is not what I had hoped for. At the time I did not have Photoshop and I used Microsoft Powerpoint to make that. Yes…Powerpoint. I’m not actually sure what happened with the zine, but nonetheless the meaning behind my picture is there indeed.

Thank you for reading, and happy birthday again Jason. If readers take away anything from this post then I hope you can just be kind to those around you. How many Jasons will it take for the rain to stop?

If you create a birthday message for someone you may never see again, good luck 世界。

此致敬礼,欣妍 – From Xinyan (Nabeela).

Ps. As I am just uploading this post I received a notification that my article for the Oxford Cherwell about my film has just been released. Let’s read it together. Here’s a link~

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