Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Beggars can (Very Much!) be choosers!

For those that raise an eyebrow reading that unconventional statement, this post might definitely make them second that belief of mine.

My on-road travel distance to office is nearly 4kms from my home. The time taken to cover this distance varies significantly based on the peak traffic hours and the volume of the vehicles on road, both moving and stationary. That leaves me with very little options of overcoming the wait-period in the traffic signal at Cyber Towers for more than 20mins, that’s the worst case scenario that I am taking into consideration as that is what would best suit the story that I am gonna present here to justify my very first statement.

Moving back to my story, it was 7.30pm on a Monday evening and as always I was relaxed a bit as it was my drive back to home after a long Monday’s workload.
As expected, the minute I halted my bike for the traffic signal that exposed the red light, I knew better to turn my vehicles engine to rest, as I was some 100 vehicles away from the signal point and it was potentially impossible for me to cross the road before the signal fell back to show red. *Sigh!*. The green light hardly shone for about 10 seconds or so.

Goaded with the discomfort that I was going to undergo for the next 15 or so minutes because of the wait amidst the bunch of cars, shuttle vans, Office buses, trucks and two-wheelers that were emitting thick black smoke as a result of the burning fuel, I took my helmet off to save myself from some serious choking due to lack of fresh air, (as if that’s going to help me any better..Silly me!) and that was the mistake that I did!

I suddenly felt a hand groping on my thigh …startled, I looked at the direction from where the hand was reaching out and touching me, I saw a pale looking, short, dark, thin and puny boy of around 7-8 years of age in rags.

I could hardly hear him in the noise-mania of the highly trafficked roads, feebly he was calling out “akka akka…” and was wailing his right palm in front of my face and was asking for alms.

He told me that he hadn’t had food in two days and was hungry and that I am to give him some money which would buy him the meal that he failed to intake in two days.

Although at the first shot, I felt anger swelling inside me to blast-off the guy for being so stupid; to scare the freaking hell out of me, by prodding my thighs….But, I felt a sudden gush of kindness flowing through my heart from nowhere, cooling me down entirely and I caught on to a conversation with that little boy.

Apparently, he knew no more than akka in the South Indian languages but sounded good-enough with his Hindi. When I asked him where he was from, all he knew was that he was from Gujarat and that his parents had deserted him when there was earthquake that shattered the entire state early in the 2000's.

I felt sad for the small soul suddenly, and asked if he would come home with me.

Scared and shocked he asked me why and inquired if I was going to hand-him over to the police for begging. Concerned by his fright , I told him not to worry, and said that I was going to take him to my home, give him some good clothes and food.

A bright smile filled his little face and vanished almost at the same pace as it had formed.

Why are you doing this to me, was his next question..followed almost immediately by Are you going to make me your slave? He started retreating with a couple of steps from where I was standing with my bike.

I let out a smile and assured him that I wasn’t going to enslave him (as this is what a lot of people around my place do usually; so was his rightful concern). I told him that I was going to find him a job, which made him earn money so that he can eat happily - at least two full meals a day at that.

[I had in my mind the job of cleaning/washing my car and the four bikes that my family and my landlord’s possessed.]

For a second, his expression was pretty blank and I couldn’t read his face.

Then, suddenly and unexpectedly he started screaming at me for reasons below:

“Whaaaaatttt??? Why should I work??? What makes you think that I should be working in the first place to earn money???? What do you think I am doing now???? If you can’t shred a penny say so and get the hell out of my way, stop giving cheap-rated advices that are worth nothing and spoil my business! I wonder what your teachers and schools teach you, not even the basic manners of “How not to waste other’s time” and “How not to disturb others business for no apparent reason”…. Now, now all the crap that you gave me apart, are you going to give me any money or not???”

I was totally taken aback by that 1 minute long discourse of his that totally stuck me hard with an iron mallet somewhere near to where my Cerebellum was located inside my head.

My mouth wide-open, not paying any attention to the honking vehicles behind me, as there was a green that had made the bunch of vehicles ahead of me to cross-over the road leaving some space ahead of me to push forward…. With reality hitting me harder than the virtual iron-mallet, I shook my head in utter despair and got my bike to life instantly and moved forward.

When I thought, that was it, the puny boy, once again ran to me some ten steps ahead, and again asked me for money. Disgruntled, I just wanted to get it over with; so, I rummaged through my bag to catch hold of some coins… and unfortunately was just able to find one 50 paise coin. "Money is money anyways" is what I thought and reached out to his out-stretched hand and placed on his palm.

Long pause. [I was looking at him, and his face told me that something was wrong].

He glared at it and then looked up at me and glared at me as well. I was clueless.

I asked him what the matter is and what he told me as an answer literally got me reeling with shock.

He said “For all that waste of time that I underwent, you should be actually giving me Rs.5/- for I have lost my business where in I would have made that much, but that’s okay, I don’t expect a two-wheeler rider like you to be well-off to be giving away Rs.5/- but I expected a 2 Rupee coin at the very least. But you gave a 50p coin and insulted me. And if you didn’t know, I can’t even make onions out of this 50p coin as it’s not made of iron. I don’t want this menial useless coin, keep it to yourself” - with that he placed the coin on my bike’s handlebar and walked away in a glorious trot cursing me furthermore to have spoiled his valuable and precious business hours!

Gosh Felt I!


JollyRoger said...

Unbelievable!!!!!!!! Where did this happen?

I guess begging is easy money from your experience.

Saloni Ramachandiran said...

@Jollyroger: This happened to me in Hyderabad, near Hi-Tech City.

Mayaavi said...

sounds slightly exaggerated for a reality-show...but was an interesting read...

Saloni Ramachandiran said...

@Mayaavi: Thanks, Truth is stranger than fiction - sometimes at least if not always!

Mayaavi said...

heheheh...could be...towards the end the dialogues only reminded of tamil movies(vivek comedies specifically)...
BTW u've blogrolled us but never really commented on our blog...not that u shud...but we had to discover u thru the analytics...nice blog this!!!Keep it rolling.

TLW said...

Cant picture this convo..... I wld have slapped the boy's face to remember the rest of his life !
Yeah ppl say am senseless !

Saloni Ramachandiran said...

@Mayaavi: Thanks!
@TLW: You do have a point!
Well, I was very shocked with the incident to react to it more practically!