Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Stranger on the Pavement......

I was walking on a bustling street in Jalalpore,
One of the endless evening walks had just begun,
My broken chappal was giving me few concerns
and it felt that she would occupy all my time this evening.
Like a miser I bargained with the cobbler and got it mended for
Two rupees. Two chilled glasses of tangy butter milk were enough to keep me going on the deserted road beyond Jalalpore.
As I passed the railway chawl, a lost looking gentleman called me, to talk to him. I was a stranger myself here, and then why would anybody call me. I avoided him, I knew, what he wanted from me.

He sat on a rather filthy pavement, colored with oblong guthka stains. “bhaaisaahab, oh bhaaisaahab”, and I was out of his firing range. But then my walk had just begun.
This man kept talking to me throughout that evening.
And why is that, I didn’t wait to listen what he had to say.
Money was all he wanted, from me, and had I talked to him, I may have given him, something nevertheless, but I knew, as I have been through this earlier as well.

What brings this well dressed, educated looking, well mannered man down to beg for alms from strangers passing by? It could be his father’s closed textile mill, or his mother’s impending dialysis, and may be even his sister long awaited marriage. What makes him lose his dignity, and sit down on a pavement like a lost soldier? Does he see a God in every approaching man and woman, and a demon once they are past him?

Or should I have seen myself, crouching besides him and listening to his worldly sorrows, and get up offering nothing. I would still have been an indifferent passer by to him. And then how do I know, what he really had wanted of me. Every evening walk of mine has such snippets of thoughts lying obscurely in my way.

1 Comments:

Blogger blah_blah_blogger said...

I have a slight difference of opinion on this...often I see able bodied men begging on the streets and the minute you give them two rupees, they will head to buy gutkha or collect some more to buy booze.

Why do I give him money? To absolve myself of the charge of neglect or apathy? To cleanse my conscience? Nothing beyond that? Do I really bother what good the money is of? Does that man deserve my sympathy, money or compassion? No. I really don't find anything moving or touching about such people.

1:24 PM  

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