Assignment #1: Syntactical Imitation (b)
By Lianne Tan

The rain has finally stopped. The streets outside were still wet, and the street lamps shone quietly on muddy puddles on the sidewalk. It was near eight o'clock at night. Feeling full and content after dinner, I was taking a walk with my father. The streets were quite empty because everybody was eating dinner, and warm lights shone from windows of houses onto the street. I was splashing through puddles when I saw an old man turn into a dimly lit alleyway—it was that alley where people dumped everything they didn't want, and it stank strongly of rotting food. However, that was not what drew my attention to him—it was more of the slow, painful way he moved, like with each step he took he had to give up something precious that he owned.

His clothes were shabby, torn, and he had an old cloak drawn around him which, even from a distance, I could see was soaked wet. He was stooping and barefooted; when he moved his feet I could see that the soles were black with dust, leaving muddy footprints after him. When he turned towards us, his face was sunken into itself—hollow eyes in skeletal features, his lips so dry and cracked it looked as if it could be broken off easily. His hair—oily and stringy—hung to his shoulders. As we watched, he stopped at the nearest rubbish bin and with quaking fingers began to rummage through the rubbish.

I stared in astonishment, and then frowned in confusion. Why was he looking through rubbish? Had he lost something? I began to walk towards him, wanting to tell him off for going through dirty rubbish, but my father yanked me back and whispered urgently, "Where do you think you're going?"

Surprised, I told him, "I'm going to tell that man over there to stop going through bins. It's not healthy, daddy."

My father put both hands on my shoulders and steered me away from the alley, walking quickly until we reached the end of the street and turned the corner. "Listen, you don't go doing that sort of thing."

"Why not? You always told me to help others."

My father closed his eyes briefly before replying. "He's…different," he told me. "He's different from us. You shouldn't go near him, understand?"

I nodded obediently, even though I didn't. "But why was he going through the bins?"

"Because," said my father, "he has nothing to eat. He's looking for his dinner." He looked at me sorrowfully. "There are some people not as fortunate as we are."

That night, just before I slept, I thought about the man in rags. I wondered where he was. Dad had said he was looking for food—he must have been very hungry. I looked out the window and saw the moon: a round pancake that had been tossed way too high and gotten stuck, so it stayed there forever to help the stars with their shine. The black night was filled with glittering stars and as I gazed at them I wished: I hope you've found food.

Author's Note/ an essay i wrote for english class. we were studying To Kill a Mockingbird and how to write from a child's point of view on a topic that she/he has not yet fully understood.