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A quick tale 188

One day on the train to Bangalore

She must be no older than 18. Or 20, at the most. Her eyes are slumped into a hollow, her cheeks tired and shallow. The child on her waist is perhaps too wasted to even cry. You spot her in the far corner as she makes her way across the train carriage holding her hand out for some spare change. You can never decide whether or not to tip beggars. Sometimes you feel guilty and drop a few coins into the outstretched palm and quickly look away. On other days you remember the article in India Today that talked about organised criminal networks behind the begging mafia. You look up at her and note that she is fast approaching you. You don't have long to make up your mind. She could be your daughter. Heck, she could have been you but for a quirk of fate. But then again, she is young, she is able-bodied. Surely, she could find some respectable work. Or perhaps, she is forced into begging by her drunkard husband. Who may beat her tonight if she doesn't bring home enough. So then, why doesn't she leave him and fend for herself? Surely, it cannot be worse than suffering an abusive husband. But if she did, she would become poor and destitute. At least now, she has a man to call her own.

She is standing in front of you now. Her palm upturned. Pleading with you to find a few coins in your pocket. You don't raise your eyes. Your nose is buried in the book in your hand. The man next to you drops some small change. You hear them clink as she moves away. You feel a pair of eyes boring into you. As if to say, how heartless can you be? I'm a kind and generous person, you want to scream. You should see me when elderly beggars approac. But instead, you immerse yourself in the pages. You wish the novel was deeply engrossing.

Comments

Priya Iyer said…
very very beautifully written!

don't we all go thru this dilemma?
Neha said…
you're doomed if you do, you're doomed if you don't. it's a harsh world :(
lvd the post, as usual.
tissue said…
Hi, If we all go through this every time. Will it be nice to have a data saying x% of beggars are real beggers and y% are fake (meaning used by some to make them beg, drinking husband beggar ..etc) This will let us know what % we can decide to donate the begger and also how much. I wish some one come up with this....
InTeGeR said…
Well written yet again. Echoes what many go through and the story got over in the same time-frame.
Ambi said…
We them (beggars) in trains, Signals, temple entrances and sure giving a rupee is not a problem. But it should be given with a mind that God has given you the money and an opportunity to donate.

Compare this with job racketeers, real estate frauds and modern and novel kind of cheats. They are worst beggers!
Shyam said…
Yup, every person's dilemma caught beautifully in words. Havent we all been there!
baala said…
You just wrote what I've thought many a time during my journeys. The collection is good. Thanks for throwing this online...

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Married for 31 years, 2 months and 17 days
Six cups coffee a day, brewed everyday of marriage
Three meals a day,
At least two dishes cooked, each meal-time
One snack for every Sunday
Big basket of clothes ironed every Tuesday
Average 18 items of clothing washed per day
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One mother-in-law suffered
900 sq metre of floor space mopped, once a day
One caesarean endured
3 chicken poxes, 2 measles, 2 fractures, 8 diarrhoeas, depression, conjunctivitis every summer, 1 tonsilitis and countless common colds and flues
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6 hours slept every night
Sex tolerated every 2nd week
Religious rituals everyone of them, carried out
Not one of them, believed in
Lived 52 years and some
Died exhausted

Overheard, “At least she had the satisfaction of having lived for her family”


http://jikku.blogspot.com/2005/02/quick-tale-3.html#c111042815438237631

The Saturday Poem

Found this in yesterday's paper. Again, I wish I'd written it.

-a

Now and Then

"Now that I'm fifty-seven",
My mother used to say,
"Why should I waste a minute?
Why should I waste a day

Doing the things I ought to
Simply because I should?
Now that I'm fifty-seven
I'm done with that for good."

But now and then I'd catch her
Trapped in some thankless chore
Just as she might have been at
Fifty-three or fifty-four

And I would say to her
(And I have to bite my tongue)
That if you mean to learn a skill
It's well worth starting young

And so, to make sure I'm in time
For fifty, I've begun
To do exactly as I please
Now that I'm thirty-one.

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