Thursday, August 09, 2007

Innocent craving

He wore a shabby, oversized shirt, and his half-pants ended just a couple of inches lower than the shirt. His hair was unkempt, and his dark eyes shone on the dark face. He looked like he was seven-eight years of age. He did not say anything, but started pulling at the hem of my friend’s kurta.

It was a sunny September afternoon. After a good lunch, we had gone out for an icecream. There is this Food World on Cunningham Road, and yes, it is not a great place to have icecreams but it was close to office and they did house Cornetto, one she really liked. We bought a cone and since Food Worlds are grocery stores, we had to seat ourselves on my bike parked in front of the store.

No sooner had she started enjoying her cone, this little boy came from nowhere and started begging. He was exactly the kind of kid you would like to shoo away—the typical child who begs at the traffic signal. Dirty and unkempt, he did not utter a single voice, but started pulling at my friend’s dress. Seeing my friend getting irritated and disturbed out of her Cornetto, I did
what almost everyone does in a similar situation; I tried dissuading him but he was stubborn. I generally disapprove of beggars, but offer them something sometimes to avoid their pestering. Thinking he was just asking for money, I gave him a five-rupee coin, which he gladly pocketed. I had believed he would go away.

I was wrong. He continued poking and touching and pulling and gesturing with his little hands. We had now got down from our perch and I again tried to drive him away. He was all the more adamant. My friend had got flustered and wanted him to leave and had started shooing him. I was wondering whether what I gave him was too less and that he wanted more money. Maybe he was hungry, but we could not have given him the half-eaten cone my friend was really enjoying.

She then suggested: “Yeh kahin nahi jaayega ashu, hum hi office chalte hain”. I considered that the best option and drove back the half-kilometer to office, where I joined my friend in finishing up the cornetto, after which both of us went to our respective cubicles to continue work.

It was when I reached my cubicle when I realized what a blunder I had committed!!!! Waves of guilt churned inside my stomach. All this time I was irritated by the child’s pestering and did not realize that he was asking us to buy him something unachievable for him!!! Even if he had the money, he would not be allowed inside a Food World and there was no way he could buy a cone!! Couldn’t wonder at the helplessness of the poor child.

He was probably mute, or perhaps chose to remain silent because he would not speak anything other than Kannada. Whatever the reason be, but all the time he had an eye on the icecream, and was gesturing us to buy him one, which both of us failed to understand. I admit we never tried to. We were too irritated to try and understand what he meant. I still remember those dark eyes requesting in vain and the disappointed and sad face when we decided to run away from him.

Ashamed of myself, I went back to the store, but could not find him around. Perhaps he had dropped the idea of an icecream, or someone more intelligent had understood and quenched his craving.

After this unforgettable episode, I kept an eye for him whenever I went to Cunningham Road, but could never spot him. And yes, we could never go again for an icecream after lunch.

27 comments:

deepak said...

I dont know the situation out there, but reading the blog, I didn't think he wanted you to use that money for icecream but i think he needs you to give out something to eat as he was hungry and at that time ,food was a greater priority as compared to money.

I don't think that posting a dog pic will be right to show the pity of that little boy:).. But it's really nice to hear that you made effort to find that boy again.

ashes said...

Deepak,

Yes, he perhaps was hungry, even after he gladly accepted the coin I gave. There is no way I can now tell whether it was hunger or his craving for an icecream that he was so adamant.

Well, the pic is of a begging dog; I did not intend to demonstrate pity for the child using that.

I wish my efforts had been fruitful.

Anadi Misra said...

Hmmm...Hey, your writing style and presentation is becoming similar to the cuckoo person whose link you gave above.

But your story seems to have more depth than hers...(uski thodi manipulative si hai).

Khair...There is not much to say. India mein itni garibi hai ki everyone has their own beggar stories. Its sad, heart-wrenching...to see people suffering that way.

As a believer in pro-active measures, I would say dont stop at that. Find an NGO which works for homeless people and beggars in Bangalore and support them. Encourage your friends to do it...

Many (including me) give alms to poor, some don't saying they dont want to encourage organized begging (which to me is a silly rationale anywayz). All this just appeases our conscience, but does no more.
Let the educated people of India rise and take the task of nation building in their own hands. Only then can our conscience even hope to be truly clear.

PS: Abey tu itna prolifically likhega to comment karne mein fight ho jaayegi...haule haule kar!

ashes said...

Anadi,

your writing style and presentation is becoming similar to the cuckoo person This means I've been reading too much of Cuckoo these days :-P. She has been like my blog-guru, but I'll try not to get inspired. Thanks for pointing this out.

...everyone has their own beggar stories... Right, maybe these pro-active measures can decrease them. However, there needs a lot of awakening to be done. Come back to India dude, and we shall do something.

Cuckoo,

Please forgive us. :)

Cuckoo said...

Yup, the post is here. :)

First thing first.

@Anadi Misra:
Arrey, aap mere blog par aaye then why didn't you leave any comment? Mujhe kaise pata chalega? Anyways, thanks for dropping by. And yes, thanks for your valuable comment as well. What if it is on someone else's blog ? :)

Yes, Ashutosh does seem to have picked up my style in a great way. Even the style of replying to comments. Good or bad, I am happy I could influence somebody. ;)

And Manipulative?? Ha Ha.. You are absolutely WRONG !! My story is 100% true story... word by word. Rather I could have written some more details.

If you are a regular at my blog, you would have noticed that I just can't write a fiction. Many of my posts are 100% real life incidents and the people who are associated with, can relate to them very well.
Anyways, no justifications here. Do let me know where you thought it looks like manipulative. I'll try to put the same thing in a different way. Same thing, because I would like to stick to the reality as seen by me.
As you might have read in my introduction, I love criticisms. So, no worries.

Now the post. Thanks for sharing this incident with us. Sometimes we do not think beyond our own thinking and when it strikes us, it is generally too late. Nevertheless, it teaches us a lesson. Do something for him if you ever find him. That will definitely leave you happy and satisfied.

As you would have read in my reply to some people, though the boy looked happy after getting that small help from me, I know my eyes would look for him next time I go there.

Good post !! Keep it up.

Cuckoo said...

Ohh, both the comments at the same time !!

And you are still awake like me !!
Not going to write anymore. Kal office jana hai.. Oops I mean aaj. :P

ashes said...

Cuckoo,

Thanks!

Yes, I've picked up a lot of things from your blog and your style, that is why I called you my blog-guru ;)

And yes, mujhe bhi office jaana hai aaj. I wonder how are you up so late; I thought you are one of those early-risers.

Anadi Misra said...

Dude, I am getting addicted to commenting on your blog.

@Saxenaji...Mere Bharat aane ka wait na kijiye, prayas shuru karo, hum yahin se saath denge.
I always had this dream of doing something, and would save paper clippings fromt the time I was in middle school. Saved for times, when I would have more money and more time. Waqt se saath I have grown more selfish and jaded, but when I read something like this...the ashes (pun unintended...this phrase is becoming so cliched...I wonder why I still use it) of that long doused fire start seething again. Khair, too much self promotion. Wish we could do something more than just talk.

@Cuckoo Thanks for taking it sportingly, but still, accept my apologies. coz I know it hurts nevertheless. There were a few compliments for you too..:)
That beggar post was the only one I have read, others seemed to be about plays so I didnt read them. Was planning to say something but since I am not a regular blogger, and Saxena blogged about the same thing, so it took precedence.
I am not contesting the facts of your post or your intent, its just the presentation. Will probably comment on your post later and say what I have to say.
Abhi naukri karni hai :)

Bharvi said...

Thanks Ashu, for putting down this incident so nicely, with your characteristic sensitivity.. though personally I would prefer it without the laces n frills. Still it reminded me of our good old days together in Techspan. Just to put the records straight, I happen to be the 'friend' in the incident, the selfish one who continued eating icecream without paying heed to the little boy's craving.

ashes said...

Bharvi,

Thanks for coming by and introducing yourself. :) I had wanted to use your name when I had to repeatedly type 'my friend' but then refrained from doing so.

Yes, I agree, laces and frills dilute the facts. Bare truth should speak for itself. Perhaps that is the reason Anadi felt Cuckoo's post manipulative.

Anyways, keep reading here. The last time you commented here you were about to start writing yourself too. I am still waiting...

ashes said...

Readers,

Cuckoo had a similar (better, I would say) experience which she talks about here.

Quoting her:
"A very pure and genuine smile came to his face and from that distance he gestured in a “Thank you”.
I smiled. My day was made.
"

Cuckoo said...

Oh Oh, Cuckoo being discussed here.
Thanks to all.

And Ashutosh, I am honoured. Yes, I am an early riser too. Little sleep is all I need unlike you guys. ;)
BTW, yours was the only blog where I commented y'day.
And yes, I have many more real incidents like that to post but no time. :(

@Anadi Misra: Chill !! This Cuckoo is a cool person, maybe iced.
Oh if you've read only the beggar post then you are missing my other creations.. Ask Ashutosh for that. Self promotion idhar bhi ?

If not blogger, then at least do become a regular reader and you are most welcome to my blog. Kabhi bhi kahin bhi comment keejiye.

People on IM said...

* Are you really that sensitive or what? Its a fucking kid that wanted some ice cream...every kid wants ice cream. Kids 'want' in general.

Children are completely egoistic; they feel their needs intensely and strive ruthlessly to satisfy them. - Freud

Kids are like that. Its called the 'the pleasure priniciple'. It exists in everyone ...every living thing ...as you grow up ... this thing called the 'reality principle' comes up to hold the pleasure principle in check. So like you might want something, but you know that you cant have it etc.
-PDV

* Kafi acha likha hai..glad u can write such stuff.
-RPA

* Abey bahut sahi hai. Touched. Happened to you or you just wrote it up?
-Mikku

* Waise tera assumption ki uss bacche ko ice-cream khaani thi bada hilarious tha...usse kuch bhi khaane ko mil jata tho woh happy tha.
-Sanjay Kaler

* I guess its the same sittuation we r all in wen we see beggars around, be it old or kids. Well i am not sure should we encourage such acts or sympathise with them:). Its too big world or people around to encourage and discourage both:(.

I think its too big a problem to discuss:(. But u know wen u r discussing u feel so helpless.. u r like y did i think aout this..... but are we ready for such an act? or such a big act? Sorry but i dont think anything is going to come out of this:)

One suggestion: Can u change ur font style and size if possible... this style is too formal types... just try somehting diffferent. Its good as of now...but incresing size slightly will make it more readable :)
-Rashmi

ashes said...

PDV,

Agreed, kids do 'want' in general. However, there is a difference between a child wanting something and throwing a tantrum and a child wanting something because he's never had it; he knows he (and his parents/guardians) do not have the means to get him what he wants, but he tries in his might. Again, begging and pleading is not the best way out, but seeing a fellow human crave for something as trivial as an ice cream cone moved me.

RPA, Mikku,

Thanks for liking the post. No Mikku, I did not make it up, it happened with Bharvi and me.

Kaler,

I don't know whether he was hungry or 'icecream-hungry'. I believed it was the latter because I did give him a five, and he would have bought something out of that. Plus, there is no other place around that Food World from where we would have bought the child something to eat, and he would have known that.

Rashmi,

We should not be afraid of thinking about an issue because it is too big. Nobody is ever ready for big acts, or acts for that matter. We have a tendency of being lazy. There has to be a beginning, and it has to start from a single point in time and place. "Every revolution begins with a single act of defiance" -Mahatma Gandhi.

Regarding your suggestion, I shall try to incorporate that my next post onwards.

himanshu said...

yaar, just because a hungry greedy beggar stared at your icecream doesn't mean u stop having icecream after lunch. Itna senti mat ho yaar, you were getting really senti in ur last post also. lighten up...and give the next beggar a tight slap before he/she starts tugging at ur lady friend and stares at ur food

ashes said...

Jumbo,

Ha ha ha! I meant it so turned out that we couldn't find a chance to go to that place and have Cornetto again...

ashes said...

Bharvi,

You don't have to call yourself that. I still remember what you were going through those days. You yourself had so many cravings to pay attention to others'. Even though you were too temperamental those days, they were really 'the good old days'. I shall always miss them.

उन्मुक्त said...

मेरा एक भ्रम तो टूटा। मैं तो यही समझता था कि अंग्रेजी में चिट्ठा पढ़ने वाले हिन्दी के चिट्ठे नहीं पढ़ते।
मैं हमेशा ऐसी लोगो को पैसों की जगह उन्हें आइसक्रीम खरीद कर देता हूं।

ashes said...

अरे उन्मुक्त जी! धन्य हुए हम जो आप हमारे blog पर आये और टिप्पणी कर के गए! स्वागत है आपका!

मुझे आश्चर्य है कि आपको यह भ्रम था भी...मेरे बहुत से मित्र हैं जो हिंदी और अंग्रेज़ी दोनों में लिखते हैं और हिंदी चिट्ठे पढ़ते भी हैं। हाँ यह बात ज़रूर है कि हिंदी चिट्ठाकारों का थोड़ा अभाव है।

पर आप जैसे लोगों ने बनाए रखा है...यहाँ भी बने रहिए...आते रहिए, पढ़ते रहिए, और टिप्पणी करते रहिए...

Cuckoo said...

वाह, उन्मुक्त जी यहाँ भी हैं !
बड़ी अच्छी बात है, सब हिन्दी जगत के चाहनेवाले एक जगह पर.
अरे आशुतोष, कहाँ है आपका नया पोस्ट ? बहुत दिन हो गए कुछ लिखा नहीं आपने ?
दरवाज़ा खट्काना (wrong spelling, can't correct) पड़ा मुझे |

KT said...

man ... I got the thing at the beginning but I am sure if I had been at ur place it wud have ended the same way....

true when we say that after all money is not everything...

I mean none of us can even say that we understand what he might have felt, for none of us wud want to feel because the very idea is painful.

@ cuckoo... forgive me for being a lazy blogger ... if I haven't already commented on that story of yours, i think it was a fantastic one....

Unlike Anadi I don't think its manipulative, but I do think its too detail packed to be true. I mean to have taken notice of so many details of a casual incidence which ended in something worth remembering. Don't think that I am doubting your genuineness...

ashes said...

कुक्कू,

हाँ, थोड़ा व्यस्त हो गया था मैं आजकल....तभी तो देखिये आपके दरवाज़ा खटकाने के बावजूद भी मैं कुछ नहीं लिख पाया बहुत दिन से...जल्द ही लिखता हूँ...

ashes said...

KT,

Welcome to my blog. Yes, you would have got the thing at the beginning; the title of the post would have been helpful too. However, a few people above did not believe the boy actually wanted to have some icecream.

And yes, the idea is indeed painful.

Did you read my other posts too?

KT said...

yes dude... I have read all your posts... just I feel lazy enough to comment on those posts... and sometimes I don't have anything to say on the posts....

but i do...

Cuckoo said...

So, when can we expect first post here ?

Anonymous said...

Your Guilt: He was indeed a beggar unknown of all the languages known to the persons there but this time he wanted to buy the stuff out of his own money. He tried to persuade you but you didn't understand a bit.

..This shows you are a normal and a logical person. As soon as you registered this incident a train of thoughts ran into your mind. You started thinking without knowing to yourself that:

1)He is not a kid of a person who is not a beggar. Had he been so he would have been properly dressed
(--Author--Here, by properly dressed I do not mean that he was chic clean and prim and proper, ready to go to a banquet hall but I do mean that anyone, through his common sense, could have easily perceived that he was not a dirty child of a well-to-do family--Author--).

2)If he had belonged to the beggar cult, and although he could have afforded an icecream cone at any arbitrary instance, he would have not bought it because of his proclivity of not doing so. He would have rather preferred to beg than to buy and this time this poor guy is apparently begging for my friend's cone.

3)A nicely brought up child, however miscreant he is, displays a minimum behavioural traits from which it becomes easy to surmise that he is not a beggar.This one is not showing any of them and at the same time is also showing ones from which it becomes evident to a certain degree that he is a beggar kid - for eg, pulling one's dress at hem is an idiosyncracy in beggar kids.

3)Had he earnestly wanted to buy an icecream cone, he would have handed to you a sum of money and would have indicated through his actions(considering the language barrier) to get one for him but he didn't do it which shows that he he is asking me to buy one for him which is equivalent to begging.

4)Now, though I have established that he is a beggar and also that there is a remote chance that he is not begging this time but innocently craving for an icecream cone and intending us to buy it for him from his own money, I shall not spare a single paisa to him and as a result shall not promote a dirty evil - BEGGING.

..Later on whatever you felt shows that you are human just like all of us and also a normal man disposed with all the tendencies humans have, guilt, being one of them.

ashes said...

Anonymous:

That's quite an effort you took to establish he is a beggar. I knew from the beginning he was one. :) I knew what you thought I "was thinking without knowing to myself".

Thanks for understanding and relating to this normal human tendency of guilt. I, however, can never relate to one tendency some humans have: anonymity.

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