In India, beggars are more visible than honesty. And it seems I have come a full circle on how I view beggars. Long back I used to give generously, then I held back ferociously and now I give selectively.
It is not uncommon for people to see beggars as a nuisance. They are not to blame fully since we have this sea of beggars. They can be found at traffic lights, outside shopping malls and temples amongst other places. But surely we can do better than getting agitated at the very sight of a beggar? Not all of them deserve our anger. Remember, we see more beggars in India because we have created more beggars in India. Decades of government apathy, social boycott and lack of opportunities have led to their creation. Agreed, many beggars are cheats who chose to take the easy path of begging rather than toiling.
Some of us have been duped by beggars who extracted money by concocting lies about hardship, hunger, and even death of a relative who needs to be cremated. Once in a while the dirty beggar’s lie is exposed. Then we return from such incidents promising never to give alms. But how does that change anything for the old crippled beggar who has reached a point where only mercy can keep him breathing? When I see such a beggar I feel ashamed thinking of how little my country and I do to better their lives.
Yesterday, while coming out of a multiplex, I looked into the face of aged, wrinkled beggar. I saw exhaustion, sorrow, and despair in her face. With cars honking for way, I could not stop and ask if she needed anything. Maybe I could have parked somewhere ahead and walked back. But my little self chose to do otherwise. Her face remained with me for quite sometime. I failed to make the right decision.
And I now find myself begging for answers.
Let me ask you: When you are approached by a beggar who deserves your help and you chose to look the other way, who is the lesser beggar? The one who is begging or the one who is refusing? Because the only reason to refuse, IMHO, is when you are a greater beggar and need help more than the beggar in front of you.