If you want to know the true value of money, try borrowing it from a beggar!
As I sit in a cafeteria, gulping down three shots of espresso, I cannot help but recollect an incident. Ever since I came to Delhi, I have seen a surplus in the surprisingly increasing population of beggars. So much for ‘achhe din’, that this has turned out to be a menace for many. But somehow, I feel responsible for it. Every time I see a homeless person I feel something conflicting inside. A sense which I cannot shake off. Amidst the sense, all I do is sympathize with them. Sympathizing with their lifestyle and their inability to survive, their need to beg for a grain of wheat. Regretting how they are forced to beg even for basic amenities. So much, that I couldn’t believe but observe this prospering profession when a beggar donated Rs. 50/- for my auto fare.
It happened a few days ago. I was travelling back from office, aiming to catch the last metro of the day (Delhi’s version of “ek chaalis ki last local”), which I subsequently missed.
With no money in my pockets, I went to the nearest Automated Teller Machine (“ATM”) only to find it out of order. Such was my situation, that I had to travel 8 km without an ounce to my pockets. Exhausted I looked around, hoping to find a kind angel who would help me out of this drastic situation and take me to the nearest ATM. But, hope and dreams are divided by a chunk of reality.
I approached the nearest auto driver only to find him drunk to the extent of human ability, call it a disorder in itself. So I moved on to the next…
“Bhaiya, Alaknanda chaloge?”
Astonished I asked, “Why?”
“Because I don’t want to!”
I had no reply to that. Although being a lawyer, I had cards in my hand but the situation and the drunkard got better of me.
I wandered around, alone, afraid to interact without knowing what I should have done.
A part of me anxious and a part frightened of living in a not-so-safe city. I turned around to find a pair of curious eyes observing me. The face inches away, observing every movement of mine. Taken aback, I thought of fleeing for a moment, when the curious eyes were joined by another set of eyes.
I had seen them many times. Every day on my way home, these were the same eyes which had approached me with some expectations. Expectations of feeding their children, expectations to survive upon and something to live upon. These were the same eyes whom I had sent away a million times, while inadvertently questioning their very existence
But, the roles got reversed. It wasn’t like every other day. Their’s were the curious eyes, mine was the receiving one.
The eyes spoke:
“You seem lost? Where do you want to go?”
“Just a bit ahead” I replied. “But the autowala is too insane to even ask for it!”
“Why don’t you take the other auto? Ah! don’t, I know he is charging way too much and you are out of money..” The eyes continued: “Here keep this ..” handing over something in my hand he continued “go and take this auto. You need it more than we do.”
The set of eyes looked at me, patted my back and returned to their erstwhile living, while all I did, was stand there, numb, unable to utter a single word. After all, I was handed over Rs. 50/- by a beggar.
Whatever I did, I did not find peace afterwards, nor did I see those eyes again.
As I continue pro-caffeinating and finish the last cup of espresso, I cannot help but wonder- “who was the real beggar?”
Nah! I just borrowed some money, or did I?