Sunday, April 12, 2009

To the beggar with a difference

In Manipur, it is very rare to see beggar begging in the market or public places. Its been almost a decade away from now, but still I believe, you could hardly find a beggar in the city there. I still remember, my mother used to give clothing and foods away to people who came once in a year to our house asking alms. They were, in a way beggars, but 99% of them were from hilly areas where their houses were brunt down, and family members were either killed in the communal fighting or get untracheable. Circumstances compelled them to come down to the plain areas and took help to reconstruct their lives.
Here, beggars are like a part of a big and organised business. You can find in every nook and corner of the city. You can't stop your vehicle at any traffic point without disturbances from beggars. In the buses, small children follow a girl or a boy and sing some mixed songs and will force you to give them money. With their horribly dirty fingers, they will pull your shirts to draw your attention, if you protest they can behave like anything. They behave like as if they have someone to protect them.
But this beggar has a very descent behaviour. Whenever I saw him, my hand automatically pulls out a note from my wallet. He must be in his mid sixty. He never forgets to greet before begging and never forgets to acknowledge after taking begs. I have a very bad habit of giving begs only to old women of above sixties. I can't bear the senior citizen coming out to the streets and begging for foods. But except this beggar, I had never given money to men beggars, because I urged myself that they can work and earn a living instead of begging.
This evening, I was returning from attending a "Light and Sound Programme". Since very late and feel very hungry, I asked the auto driver to speed up. When I reached the traffic point of the flyover nearby my place, I asked the auto to halt for some time. I looked around but to my surprise I could not see any beggar around as usual. After crossing the traffic, I asked the driver to stop at a cigarette shop nearby, light up a stick of my brand and inquire about the absence of beggars there. The shop owner said, looking left and right by pulling out his neck outside for a while "Sab, sabko le gaya"...Kisne...."Police ne, commission ka chakker lagta hain..."