A Happy Encounter


The old man in the wheelchair spots me from across the street and beckons me to come over. He plays a bouncy tune on the harmonica. Behind him, poised as if ready to whisk him away at any moment, is a white-haired woman whom I assume to be his wife. He poses for a photo. I give him NTD50 – forty more than what he was asking for on a sign he held up to passersby.

He attempts to converse with me in Chinese, but I shake my head apologetically. Nodding in understanding, his face breaks into a gaping smile. He raises both hands to me instead and exclaims, “Happiness!” then goes back to playing his harmonica.

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