“ Do not encourage beggars unless they are physically handicapped.. These people are a real disgrace to our country..they are the embodiment of laziness.. blah blah blah” . I’m sure we must have all come across such statements from our parents, our elders and teachers. Somehow , I have never questioned that so far in my life! But then, the recent decade that passed by and the one that has just begun has got something in it ,that stands out in the grey area waiting to be classified… Something that you totally can’t call laziness and neither can you call it a handicap! Something between these two categories.
It is a very common sight these days at our local bus termini and railway junctions, to see a few children in total rags, with dirty little hands and legs and hair that never got a chance to glimpse upon a bottle of hair oil! These little men and women come up to you pulling a sorry face and ask you for money! And they are just no ready to take a “NO” for an answer! They pull your shirts’ end or keep nagging you making all sorts of actions related to hunger! Sometimes they can be real pests!
Even as I use this word “pest”, I feel sorry for it! Now these little kids can’t be blamed for anything that they do because they don’t even know they are doing! Right from birth they have been experiencing only poverty and neglect that they do not know that there is a beautiful world out there and a meaningful living in it! Totally being refused from all goodness that life has to offer, these little ones have really done nothing to deserve this fate! I’ve wondered how these kids would feel when they see another kid of their age, well dressed and well fed while they strive hard at a very immature age! For a very long time I was confused as to how to react when these children came to me asking for money! Should I give them money? Or Should I not? Probably if I give them money, would I be encouraging them to stay this way all through their lives? Or if I don’t give them money, will my conscience approve of it? I really didn’t have an answer to this. So usually I would make it a point to silently move away from such places when I see them.. But would later feel bad for having moved away because that is very much, in naïve terms, an act of cowardice!
But recently, I found an answer to this!
After celebrating a fabulous beginning of this year with my cousins at our granny’s place, it was time for everybody to pack up and push our respective ways back homeward! It was half past 12 and we were all waiting for a bus! Meanwhile, a little boy approximately 7 years old, came to us asking for money! I first tried to shoo him away. But he just wouldn’t go! He came around us again and again. I barked at him for the second time. The poor kid got a bit scared and moved away! But he still stood at a distance watching us! Now, I felt there was something about this kid that pricked me! It was New year’s day. We were all happy, well dressed and well fed! And this poor kid has been deprived of it all totally! Stranded in the streets, this special day made no difference in his life! So what if it was the beginning of a year or it’s end.. He would anyways have to beg for his food! As I was looking at him, suddenly my language teacher’s words rang loud into my ears. “Never give money to beggars but feed them if you can. You will feel a difference” . He was one of my best inspirations back at school.. He told us one day in class that even such people need to be treated with courtesy and respect as they too deserve a good life! I don’t know why and how this thought hadn’t come up in my mind earlier, but that day it struck me .. I called that boy aside and took him to a nearby tea stall and got him a cup of tea! He silently stood sipping it in one corner and meanwhile throwing quick glances at me in between as if I would take away his tea. I silently watched him as he gulped down the entire cup! He kept the glass tumbler back and he started walking away from the place. After taking a few steps, he stopped and looked at me.. and then carried on! Believe it or not, but it was the most divine glance I had ever seen! Out of all the dusty appearance, his eyes shone brightly! And I just can’t describe how good I felt that day! And then when I turned back to my cousins, my little cousin told me in a low tone “good job anna” ! I smiled at her and went into a nearby shop to get something to drink for myself! When I came out, I was surprised to see that there was another small kid ..even younger than that one.. and one responsible cousin of mine was getting him something to eat! I felt very happy… Not because she fed the kid, but because I felt a chain reaction was generated there! A good chain.. I realized then , that there is actually so much goodness in this world that can make this earth a better place if we all come together for a good cause! And I left the place then, with a light heart and the satisfaction of knowing that I don’t have to feel uncomfortable anymore with those children!
And an earnest appeal to our citizens.. We can’t just wait for change to happen one fine day! We need to initiate it and be the change that we want to see! Regarding this specific issue, now there is an organization called “The Red Society”. Anywhere inside TamilNadu , if you come across such children , please contact this number 9940217816.Furthur details will be furnished about this soon! Thank you!
We are all blessed with the power to make miracles happen.. We just don’t realize it most of the times!