In the evening of the second day of the Lunar New Year, we were coming home from visiting relatives when we passed by this street sleeper on Nathan Road. It was about 10 degrees Celsius at the time.
My father was just ahead, within sight. Earlier in the day he was telling me how he had to protect his neck and throat with a scarf, and his head with a hat. It is no longer enough to wear a down jacket. When he sleeps, he has to make sure his throat is warm, otherwise he will start coughing. But it is not surprising, considering that he is 80 years old.
It must have been bitterly cold for the sleeper to sleep that way. The blanket was not likely to be enough. Not for his body. Certainly not for his throat.
I read in the newspaper later that in that same evening, two blocks away, a 101 old sleeper died in a back alley. He had slept in the street for years. He refused food and clothing. He would only accept cardboard, which he exchanges for money to buy food himself. I also read that half of the street sleepers are over 50 years old, and have been on the street for more than 2 years. They are used to sleeping in the street, have lost confidence in society, find it difficult to interact with people, and refuse help.
That does not absolve society of the obligation to be kind to them, and to each other. We are all children of God, and hence brothers and sisters. When one of us suffers, we all suffer together.