TO BEg OR NOT TO BEg
But since past one month I am in Chennai, pursuing my summer training. Easygoing that the work life is when compared to IIM life there is a lot of free time and so fitness freak that I crave to be, I usually walk the 3-4 kms distance from my hotel to office and back every day. As I walk I cross hundreds of people - but each day, the ones who compel me to think are the beggars. There are quite a few of them on the road that I take. Someday I am generous, other days I just change my course or pretend not to have seen them. Eyes manage to avoid them. Brain does not. Everytime I cross one of them, the same thoughts come rushing to my mind- why beg? Why not just kill yourself?
Ah!! I know it's a terrible thought. But yeah, thats what I think. Why are these people dragging along with their lives? what is it that keeps them going? Is killing oneself that difficult, especially when you don't have anything to live for?
Am not referring to the kids who have been forced into begging. Neither am I referring to the poor widowed mother begging for the sake of her newborn baby. Am referring to the beggars who are very old or are severely handicapped. Poverty by itself is terrible. Poverty with old age or a handicap which renders one unable to work is even worse!
The day the handicap rendered 3 out of 4 limbs of that hapless beggar useless, he would have known his chance of a dignified life in a country like India had become almost negligible. May be he was too young then to think of dignity and life and all that stuff. What concerned him then was his hunger for which he started begging. But as years passed he did grow. he did learn to think. he did observe that around him people did live a dignified life and he, simply because of a cruel stroke by mother nature, had to beg to be able to survive. He was a human being like any other person but unlike others he was living a life worse than an animal. Worse because he could think, he could observe, he could understand what a joke nature had played with him. But he has still carried on. He begs so that he may have food everyday which will keep him alive. What I dont understand is why he still wants to be alive? Killing oneself is not easy. But is it not easy even for such people who do not have a life anyway? Well, I dont know if I am justified in saying that these people have no life. But however hard I may think, I cant figure out what could life be for that beggar. Other than the purpose of completing the food chain as required by nature, shouldnt there be something more to each of our lives?
Then there is this old lady. She is a leper. Has a big hunch. She begs to me when I walk to the office in the morning. She is there begging at the same place, again when I walk back to room, joining hands to people like me who must be of the age of her grandson or even younger. What makes her do this from 8 in the morning to 10 in the night? She doesn't have teeth even to be able to eat. what does she beg for? Her face screams of the extreme pain she is in. She is ready to bear this persistent pain caused by an unattended ailment, old age, constant humiliation and extreme deprivation. But she isn't ready to bear the one time pain of killing herself! Why?
However, my daily list of encounters include a very different case also - A roadside palmist. His props include a crude hand made kundli and a magnifying glass. He sits on the same place every day. Morning 8:30 I cross him, waiting for customers. Again at 9 in the night, I cross him, stil waiting. But not even once have I seen him having any customer. Well Ok. To be honest One day there were two foreigners, out of curiosity, getting their palms read. Other than that zilch! He seems to be in an eternal wait. Frankly, who these days goes to a road side palmist to know their future? And so most probably, that guy earns nothing on most of the days. yet, he has this dignity. he doesn't beg. On the other hand, people who decided to forget their dignity and beg, are earning much more than him on any day. So whats important? Who is better off? The astrologer? The beggar? Should the astrologer start begging? should the beggar kill himself or be happy that at least he is better fed than the astrologer?
I understand that begging would have been difficult only when these people did it for the first time. The bloody human mind gets used to and adjusted to anything if done for long enough duration. And so now dignity is not something they would ever care for. they jus want to survive. What i don't understand is why they want to survive? Why is the survival instinct so strong? God played a joke on them by making then severely handicapped as well as extremely poor. But why should they accept the joke silently and live like an animal all their life? When they had understood that there wasn't any scope for them to lead a human life in this world, why didn't they just go ahead and kill themselves? For whose sake they want to survive? What do they want to achieve by prolonging their own agony? Don't their hearts bleed at the thought of having been meted with grave injustice by God when they see normal people around them?
One may go on and give an idealistic talk on the value of human life, never giving up, optimism etc etc. But for these people I really don't think there is any hope. They are extremely poor and they are physically incapable. Even if they want, how do they improve their lives? I am not even sure, if they think at all about improving their lives. In all probabilities, their thoughts do not go beyond the next meal and that occasional pouch of 'desi daru'. Worse, the government doesnt have the resources to take care of such people.
You cant do it yourself, government cant do it for you. How on earth do you think will you ever get out of this mockery of human life?
Why not just jump under a train? Will be a matter of only few seconds!