Long back, when I was a kid,
This beggar used to come to our streets.
Nobody knew about her past,
But the way she carried herself conveyed,
She must have once belonged to an elite class.
Like any other beggar, she was skinny and plain
And wore a rusty saree that swept the entire lane.
Sober and docile was her first impression,
Little did we know, she had a sharp tongue and a massive aggression!
Money was never her demand,
Instead, she used to ask for a glass of water
And accused the residents of taking her homeland
And referred them as ‘outsiders’.
One fine day, my mother was moved by her scorching words
And offered her water so that she could quench her thirst.
To her surprise, she threw the water and emptied the glass
And yelled at her for being less courteous.
It seemed she expected the food to be served as well,
She criticized her for not understanding the real need of sustenance.
My sweet uncle, who was known for his generosity and kindness,
Once had an encounter with this lady.
He was taken aback when she did the same to him
And thus, decided never to give alms to any poor or pilgrim.
She ditched her ego only in front of an old Granny,
An epitome of love and compassion.
She never said a ‘no’ to her ‘one and only host’
And took whatever was donated by her without any revolt.
Besides this, she was known for her punctuality.
Every Sunday morning nine o’clock sharp,
We could hear her voice down the street.
My brother and I made fun of her,
Named her ‘Freedom Fighter’ and created a cool rap out of her rants.
We used to sing this song of ours for long until we grew apart.
Several years later, when I came home,
I saw her begging in front of the granny’s house oblivious to her demise.
She had turned weak and fragile
But had not shunned her old attitude.
We rebuke and mock when people beneath us throw their ego
And find it classy when the same is done by an aristocrat.
Perhaps, her attitude was the reflection of the people’s behavior towards her.
There can be many theories that can be opined
But one thing is for sure,
I will never forget a beggar
Who used to beg like a boss!