Seven billion people inhabit this planet. Two are my parents. One is my sister. Five are my cousins. Another eight are my aunties and uncles. Another twenty or so are the people I have befriended since childhood.
That leaves six billion, nine hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and sixty-six faces that are unfamiliar, or insignificant, to me.
I stand in the middle of a crowd, in a place where I am able to see everybody until the end of the horizon in north, south, east and west. I see mothers frantically trying to stop their children from crying tears. I see fathers out at work, trying to earn income to support his family. I see sons and daughters that grudgingly attend school, half paying attention to their teachers, glancing at the whiteboard through half-lidded eyes. I see the elderly resting in their rocking chairs, lost when their eyes connect with the world outside their windows until their grandchildren find them and bring them back home.
Amongst the six billion and a bit, I see laughter, happiness, sadness, anger, heartbreak and betrayal. I see everything, yet even if I were to observe them under a microscope, I will never understand who they are, what they’ve been through and what they’ve seen.
I spot an elderly man down on his knees, his head bowing down to an engraved stone in front of him. In his frail hands, flowers, freshly picked from his garden that morning. He mutters prayers, letting his emotions run loose as each feeling escapes from his lips as frantic words. When the feelings would not come out as words, they would come out as tears that fall onto the ground below him. He then stops and looks up at the stone he had bowed to, and reads;
In loving memory of:
A woman who gifted others with everything when she had nothing.
The man trembles before kissing the flowers and settling it on the gravestone, then shakily stands on his feet. He bows his head once more before turning his back on his deceased wife and walking away.
On the other side of the world, I observe a young woman, beads of sweat trickling from her forehead, panting and exhausted. The cries of a youngin rings in my eyes, their minds clean and innocent, still clueless as to how the world around them works. The new mother, tired, still reaches out for her child and protectively holds him in her weak arms. With her pale lips, she kisses her son’s forehead, silently blessing him through that moment of love, thankful that her child is healthy. She whispers sweet words into his ears, each sentence holding nothing but motherly affection.
I did not know them; the old man, or the young mother. I watch them closely, but I learn nothing about them. Their names still remain a mystery, a question to be left unanswered. Both are strangers that merely fill the background of my life so that my stage isn’t so empty. I didn’t need to know anything about them, and they didn’t need to know about me, either.
But despite the death of one and the new life of another, there are still seven billion people in this world, plus the most important one.