The War Veteran turned millionaire

Veeraswamy Krishnaraj

 September 14, 2016

NLW was a Vietnam war veteran. He fell on hard times upon his return from war. He earned his purple heart and kept it hidden so his fellow street mates did not steal it to buy a beer or a meal. Yes, he lived on the streets of NYC.  He called himself Norman. No one knew his first, middle or last name. No one knew he was a veteran.  Yes, he fell through the cracks and the safety nets did not catch him.  He had his possessions in a supermarket wagon, walked and slept on the streets of NYC.

His trusted street mates kept a watch on his possessions when he went to the public lavatories for personal hygiene. He was seen in the middle of the night taking a dip at the public fountains. In his younger days, he wore natty clothes. That habit stayed with him even to this day. Sometimes he was seen to wear nice ties given to him by some good souls just for asking.  Sometimes he picked up nice clothes and shoes from clothing donation bins. He never took clothing from bins to make a buck for himself. He took what he needed.  Some supermarkets gave away unsaleable dented cans containing ready to eat meals, cooked beans…; the customers won’t’ pay to buy them.

He had a bad experience in one of the homeless shelters on a wintry night. His fellow inmates beat him up, stole all his meager possessions and left him naked on the floor.

He never hesitated to get free meals in these centers but never stayed there overnight.

He had a friend and a buddy soldier for a good Samaritan. He lived upstate NY.  His friend was a Wall street businessman. He offered to support NLW, but he would not accept his help.  He is a businessman now because NLW saved his life during war.

The indignities of living on the streets took a toll on him. People spat on him. The children taunted him. The street mates stole from him. The merchants treated them like plague. He hid from police vans, which took him and others to the shelter on cold days.

One day, lacking proper meals in two days, he was walking unsteady on the streets near Madison Square Garden. That time, a man for himself bought his sandwich from a shop. As he was about to eat it, this man with unsteady gait was walking by.  The man gave him the sandwich, which our street dweller took graciously and showed a flicker of gratitude on his face.

Months and years went by for NLW on the NYC streets. One day a scrap of paper attracted his attention. He picked it up and checked the numbers. They all matched. He called his friend and told him about it. The friend accepted to cash the lottery ticket for him and took the offer of 2% of the lotto money for himself.

NLW is a rich man now, lives in an upscale neighborhood, did not forget his days on the street.

Now he dresses nattily, sleeps on his own bed, takes warm showers, still eats out of cans and boxes and runs a shelter for the homeless. The wall street friend got a double bonus from the homeless street walker: his life and riches.