Close to my village, near the Contuar Chakk, a beggar used to reside in a small shanty that he built underneath a huge peepal tree. He had managed to get tarpaulin from a benevolent panchayat member but even that was too small and had patches and holes in it. Days during winters and rains were full of struggle for him. He used to visit our village for collecting alms. One day my sister Iti realised that the beggar had not been coming to our village for the last few months. She wanted to ask me, but I got busy in something else and we did not end up talking about it.
After a few days, one of my friends running came to our house and asked my mother, “Where is your son?” Maa asked back “Why are you asking me? Isn’t he your friend and you should know about him”. Maa wanted to send the friend back in order to not disturb me while I was resting and recuperating from fever.
He remarked “I didn’t see him at school today. Didn’t he go to school today?” Maa answered in her calm tone that I had been feeling feverish for the last 3-4 days and was sleeping as of now. “His temperature is high. I will not be able to call him now.”, Maa added.
My friend insisted Maa to call me outside as he had something urgent to talk to me about. On his repeated requests, Maa called me from inside.
My friend said, “You used to meet him while going to school. Of late you haven’t seen or met him. In last two or three days, his health has deteriorated and he has been suffering from high fever too.”
Both of us went to meet the beggar. I was not well but I did not care much about it. I wanted to go and see the beggar. Very close to his shanty, an old voice whispered from the small crowd “Oh boy! He is waiting for you. He will only rest in peace after he sees you for the last time.” A sudden sense of panic gripped me. My heart started beating faster and hands shivered.
I came back in sometime from there. My heart and mind were still in that place, his shanty and his eyes, and the last glance.
Maa asked “Where did you go in such a hurry? Why did you have to rush? I was avoiding answering your friend properly because I wanted you to get well soon.”
“Do you recall that beggar who used to come to our village earlier? He is not coming for alms for months now.” I asked.
“Yes, he doesn’t come anymore. I overheard that he was not keeping well.” said Maa.
“He had lost his legs in accident and could not come to ask for alms,” I replied even before she could complete, “That is why I used to give him 50 paise everyday before going to school.” In that kind of home situation this was also too much for us. “What will happen in 50 paise?” Maa asked. I had not gone to him for last few days because of fever. He was also suffering from fever. He was waiting for me in that condition. After after giving him the last drop of water, he breathed his last.
I have always got immense pleasure out of giving and donating. It didn’t not matter whether I had money or not, but I always had intention to help and make other people suffer less to an extent that people in my village compared my benevolence and kind attitude with my father who did not keep anything for personal use and gave away every last penny. Such qualities are nurtured from a very young age and becomes our nature, so strongly ingrained in our character that it becomes our life and very reason of our existence.