I need to confess something.
I’ve not entirely kept my promise.
The one where I said I’ll try to address the god inside every body as I speak to them, and not hurt them. I haven’t wounded too many folks recently with my words and acts, but there’s a class that has repeatedly been at the receiving end when I decided to let go of my considerate self.
The beggars and tramps.
You see them at every signal and communal location.
Whatever their own chronological age, they almost always have an infant in one hand, dressed in tatters, a fake and beseeching expression on the face.
As we eat or talk, these vagabonds come outta nowhere and eye your food in the most disgusting manner.
The baby in their arms, with a dripping nose and a ragged doll in the hand, looks at you as the elder pesters you to pass on the morsel. Grrrr...
They touch you with their grimy hands, and purposely try to vex you. Ugghhhh...
This may remind you of Jamal and his clan in Slumdog Millionaire or the novel Q n A by Vikas Swarup (You must have heard the movie has won 8 Oscars! Cheers to you Boyle, Rehman and the gang. Way to go!!)
However, my post does not come in response to their movie or their victory. This subject has been in my mind a long time now... Just didn't get an opportunity to write...
The national symbol of Indian crossroads, there are a few that try to earn their dime by performing their talents, antics and acrobatics. Some sell flowers and car accessories. Like the boy I saw the other day. He was selling a bunch of wilted roses in the scalding heat, walking barefoot on the blistering road. Someone spat at the signal (a reminder that you’re in India) and the boy didn’t even look down as he coolly walked over it. The bystanders cringed. The boy didn’t even notice.
I remember Akshay on FC Road while I was doing my bachelors at Fergi. A smart and bindaas vagrant, and a favorite with all those who spent their waking hours at joints on FC. Regulars like us knew that while he was awesome with the ladies, he could throw world-class tantrums! He hurled abuses and while initially the youngsters used to laugh at being called “asshole” and “fuck off”, I wonder what their reaction would be now...
(As my mum says, babool ke beej lagaoge, toh aam kaha se aayenge... How thought-provoking!)
Foreigners used to melt as he acted cute and begged with his puppy-face, they handed him a crisp 500 rupee note for his nautanki. We used to joke that the kid carried with him more money than any of us at any moment in time... I heard he even took to drinking later. But, the few times that I’ve ran into him near FC, he always seems to recognize me... Dunno where is now. Hope he has walked more constructive avenues.
The point being, I don’t really know where the nation and these beggars are heading. Majority of the people being below the poverty line, what will they do if not beg? It’s better than becoming a thief or criminal...
Let's be honest - I don’t have the solution, but I sure know that this community is irritating and annoying, and that’s what most of us feel about them. NGOs and volunteers are doing their bit about their education and upliftment, but how far is this really effective in creating a better life for them? We all know teaching a man to fish is better than just passing him one. But, do we really have enough jobs for everybody, ex-beggars included? (Given the current global meltdown, the bestest of chaps are rendered jobless. What more can I say?)
I’m worried about our future. And more so, coz I can’t see any change in the scenario anytime soon. I cannot even visualize one, for that matter...
Get out those thinking caps, and set your grey cells working, readers. Just handing over a couple of pennies and clothes isn’t really cracking this.