Sep 13, 2010
“Haadonda haada beku...adu bahu kaala baala beku…” (sing a song that lives for long) someone was singing in a shrill voice. I turned and saw a small girl of may be about four or five years old, dressed shabbily, with a torn bag on her shoulder. She was standing next to me with her arms open, pleading for some money. Soon she heard the honk of a bus and rushed out.
This happened when I was seven years old. It was my first and most unforgettable encounter with a beggar. She taught me a valuable lesson through those meaningful words.
Who are these beggars?
There are people whose profession is to beg. There are people who, due to circumstances, lose all they have and become people of the street. Begging becomes the only way of procuring their daily bread. There are also people who are forced into begging by selfish, powerful hands.
Quite often, we find them in public places, shabbily dressed, with vulgar language and a pleading face. They are an integral part of today’s society.
Psychology of Beggars
A large number of beggars often suffer from several psychological problems, suggest the studies at Beggars Colony, Bangalore. Naturally, they’ll have to show themselves as abnormal people to get their fill. Thus a beggar tends to harm himself physically, which in turn harms his/her psyche. They lack basic psychological support system. Their need for intimacy, relationships and for human touch is hardly met. Thus they lose control over their own selves, for reasons they can least help.
Physical Condition of Beggars
Beggars suffer from various illnesses due to the unhygienic conditions around them. We can very often see them around public garbages, near crematoriums and near public places of celebrations waiting to take leftovers.
Their food lacks necessary nutrients, as they can’t really plan it. Since their entire focus is on begging, they can hardly focus on their physique. Thus beggars are known to be 'nasty' or 'stinking' people. A great number of beggars breathe their last due to various health reasons.
As a student, I learnt in school that food, shelter and clothing are the three basic needs of a human. Beggars are not secured of all the three. These are people who, unsure of their tomorrow, live for the present.
When a child is born in a family, the first thing the parents think of is the education of that child and how to mould him/her into a successful person. But what happens when a child is born in a family of beggars? They can only think of how to use their child in begging and turn it into another beggar. Is this their fault? In my opinion, the fault lies in the structure of the society. Beggars will never be able to look beyond these structural barriers.
Recently the issue of deaths in Bangalore's Beggars' Colony brought many things to light. ‘They are unjustly treated’ - these words would summarize the whole scenario. But will a beggar ever be able to raise his voice against this injustice? Can he afford a lawyer and fight his battle in the court of law?
These are truly voiceless lives. These are the people who cannot speak for themselves. Even if they do speak, there are no ears patient enough to listen to them.
Do they have Dreams?
Dreams turn into thoughts
Thoughts transform into actions”
- said the great Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. May be a beggar can desire to have something but he can never afford to dream to be somebody in today’s society. Dreams are beyond their reach. Their lives are lived for the moment; dreams have no place in such lives. And even if they have dreams, they can hardly hope to fulfil them. Don’t you think such life is hopeless?
Need of the Hour
There is a great difference between giving five rupees to a beggar and treating him on equal terms. What the beggar needs today is a humane treatment from the society - from you and me. A smile, a kind gesture, a loving word above all. Treating him as a human being would do him a world of good.
What we need today is an attitudinal change within ourselves towards these hopeless lives. A societal and communitarian movement would further help in improving their present state. But will it ever be possible in this corrupt, class-minded, highly politicized society of ours?