I have traveled to quite a few places over the years and in all my travels, I have met a wide variety of people. But very few of them have had any impact on my life and amongst those select few are the beggars who haunt the railway stations and bus stations. At these places, people embark on different journeys that take them not only to new destinations but also new opportunities. Many of them would hardly throw a glance towards those begging hands, in their urgency to board. Others search in their pockets for loose change, irritated but at the same time wanting to be humane. I have belonged to both these categories during various points in time. Sometimes spurning them away and at other times, dropping a coin or two with a smile. And I have come to realize that although there is a method inherent in their begging, each has his or her own identity. So I decided to write a small monologue of one such beggar, in conversation with an inquisitive fellow human at a busy bus station.
A Beggarly Monologue
“I am alone. I am a part of the roving masses of this city, a nut amongst the complex machinery of moving, breathing souls, yet I am alone. They look at me but hardly see me. I am a part of their everyday background, another nameless faceless individual in this blurred painting of existence. If I die, will anyone miss me? Will I be mourned? Will I even be remembered to have existed here? Then why am I here if I cannot disseminate my life? Has my life anymore meaning than a miniscule ripple in space and time? Am I not worthy enough to deserve an inquisitive glance from those that flow beyond and before me? What merit must I have to cause those eyes to look upon me and consider me human enough to warrant a second of thought, maybe even an iota of pity? But I am hoping too much. Pity. I haven’t hoped for pity for a long while. I do not remember anyone having ever felt sorry for me. I think the last time I received any sympathy from a human was when I was one myself. But now, now I am a bitter, ragged and dirty shell of dying flesh. I have been reduced to the base animal that I am and yet ironically I have not elicited understanding and compassion. A rabid dog or a maimed horse would be a welcome sight to those eyes searching for pitiable things. But not me. I am not picked up from the streets to be healed like those wretched creatures. My bones are not mended by those bleeding hearts. And I am not even killed to ease my suffering. All I get are hard metallic coins. My only worth are those tinkling coins that fall on my open grungy palms, as I hold them up, begging not for wealth, but for recognition. I beg to be recognized for who I am. I beg to be considered a human again. I beg for acknowledgement of my existence. But, in the end if someone does grant me what I beg for, what then? What if a kindly pair of eyes looks upon me with a glimmer of pathos, what will I do? Will I consider myself saved? Will I forgo my suffering and consider myself enlightened? Will this rid me of my life’s worth of dirt? I do not know. I have yet to meet those eyes. Thus, I grab those coins with much enthusiasm, knowing that they will keep me alive until I wait for those eyes. They will sustain me until the moment I am looked upon with mercy and understanding. Then, I can die in peace, knowing that there is hope in this flux of souls. Knowing, that I mattered to someone, even if it was for a moment.”