May 26, 2011

Why some people choose begging as their means of living?

I saw him the moment I stepped out of the ticket counter at Saidapet railway station. I wonder if he had made that place his home, for every time I go buy a ticket I could always see him there, wearing the same torn white shirt which looks more soiled, and a blue lungi with stripes of different shades. I often wonder if that's the only garment he possess!

His eyes looked somber and it seems he had lost any sign of energy that day. Fearing if he had caught on with fever, my compassionate heart went out for him. "Are you OK?" I asked him with a sympathetic voice. "Ya...", he mumbled. He did not raise his alms plate which I found to be empty, and so I lowered myself and dropped a coin. May be its a bad day for him.

He declined my offer to buy him a meals. "Should I buy you some medicine? Are you feeling the heat?" I asked him. My concerned voice had softened him it seems, he suddenly opened up himself. "I got my today's quota of alms. So I am not worried about begging anymore for today!" he said. I left him there then, and minded my own work.

But I could not stop contemplating on what he said. First of all, what made him to choose begging as a means to live? Does not we have enough job to live a dignified life?

A visit to T.Nagar, a cynosure of shopping, located nearby Saidapet showed just the opposite! I could see thousands of poor people toiling their day to earn bread for their family which is at hundreds of miles away from here. Having no family to take care of is actually a boon for such people because they feel less pressure of their responsibilities and be able to spend their earnings for themselves. The poor beggar could work on one such shop, I thought aloud.

What made him to choose begging as a means of living? Contemplating on that question again, I walked to my mess today to have my dinner. My mess manager was sitting outside of the mess hall to collect the mess cards and mark my presence on it. Its a routine for him to mark our mess cards thrice a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner during vacation. On his table was a huge fruit basket filled with bananas. A banana is usually given to all students daily during dinner.

While I was picking up my banana, something caught my attention. A spotted deer was standing few feet away from the table, drooling at the sight of bananas in the basket. It did not show any sign of attack to take away the bananas, nor did it show any sign of fear due to the presence of humans!

"Our campus has lots of deers roaming around freely, but I had seen that they are generally shy in the presence of humans", I was conversing with my mess manager. He said, "a couple of days back, one of the students who came to dine at this mess offered a banana to this deer. It has now started begging for its food here daily!".

I now understood why some people choose begging as their means to live!