I live in India and beggars are quite a common sight.
We have at sometime in our lives decided to ignore that what is right in front of us.
After all how can India be shining if there people begging on the streets for food.
I somehow never understood this and ended up parting with small change frequently at signals, railway stations, outside restaurants and god knows what other places only to be laughed at by my friends who scoffed and lectured me on how these 'poor souls' would then go buy drugs and alcohol with that money.
It didn't matter. I was an idealist, an optimist. Somewhere among those addicts if there was genuinely a poor soul who was dying of hunger it would be a crime on my part to deprive him due to a convenient generalization of these people. Convenient because politics couldn't afford to blame the state of these people to poverty and lack of opportunity could they.
However, the other day i saw something which has made me more than a little sceptical of this world. No before all the Bollywood buffs start guessing that i saw the movie TRAFFIC SIGNAL, let me assure everyone that i did not and do not intend to. The movie is about the organization and cartelization of begging for those not in the know.
Coming back from the meander, i was at a signal near my house inside an auto with my girlfriend. A teenaged boy came and asked me very politely and sweetly if i would like to buy the bouquet of flowers in his hand. His ragged clothes could not been seen besides the innocence of the smile on his face. There was something so genuinely nice about him that me and my girlfriend just could not help but feel bad for him. However before we could do anything, the Autorickshaw driver thinking that the boy was annoying us immediately started up and left him behind (in my head a little heartbroken perhaps). I usually feel bad for the little children who beg, never for the more grown up ones. But he was different. Something about him really touched my heart and i felt extremely guilty and angry at the autodriver's callousness. When i was on my way back i got off a little earlier and walked to the very same signal. I saw the boy again hawking his wares with his innocent, sweet and polite (all rolled into one) smile. There were just 2 bouquets left. I wanted to buy both from him, i believed that it would make his day better and i felt that he deserved it. As i was crossing the road, a older lady from inside a car bought one of the bouquets. My eyes followed the boy who held the last bouquet in one hand and a 10 rupee note in the other.
He walked upto these two men who were standing on the side of the road and had been watching the beggars for sometime. He handed over the 10 rupee note. But it wasn't the money that mattered.
The smile was gone.
Instead there was a sly elation. Here stood a master of deception who had identified his gift and used it devastatingly.
I walked away towards my house without a bouquet.
He might live again tomorrow.
But today the idealist was dead.