(Part-2 of Landmark. Day 9 BlogchatterA2Z)
Whether they sanctioned the loan or not I was determined not to change the form. I had given up on my efforts first to rehabilitate and then to evict the beggar after a prolonged battle. Barely one month after I had rented the shop I suggested the beggar to take up a security job that would have also entitled him to free housing inside the complex. He did not say anything and went on with his job without paying any heed to my entreaties.
We continued to share a love hate relationship. The day when my earning was good I did not forget to add a few coins to his kitty. I also thought of ways to rehabilitate him. After all he is a fellow human being. The day my business was poor, somehow I felt he was responsible for my ill luck of the day and thought of ways to evict him.
I still remember my last attempt to evict him. It was the day when just before closing my medicine shop an uneasy and feverish feeling dawned on me that the whole city had suddenly become exceptionally healthy. That day, after lunch time, not even a single customer visited my shop. Later on I realized that another medicine shop had been opened that day just across the street and there was no beggar sitting there in front of the shop. What irritated me more was that the beggar’s income was always protected from any kind of market fluctuation, business rivalry, or national calamity.
That day I decided I would try once more. At the same time I was not sure what to do. Should I cause another beggar to be stationed in front of the other medicine shop? Why one, I could even manage to bring half a dozen beggars to this marketing street. That would end his monopoly. Ultimately, this unprofessional and ungrateful beggar would lose out in the competition and shut his shop. As I was weighing this option in my mind I remembered what Chandu had said on a number of occasions. The beggar was the president of the local beggars’ union. No one would dare compete with him.
I had heard that there was a charitable organization that rehabilitated beggars. I enquired further and went to the office of the Rehabilitation Anonymous Bangalore. I insisted on meeting with none other than the head of the institution. I was told that the head trustee was out of town. However, his secretary, a plump lady in her forties, was gracious enough to grant me a patient hearing.
“So you stay in Nehru Nagar. Do you know my brother? Recently, he got transferred to Nehrunagar branch.”
“Madam, I am not Google. You haven’t even told me your brother’s name and the branch of what has he been transferred to. By the way, I came here to seek help for my problem. Actually it is not my problem. It is actually in national interest. But I believe your organisation is interested in rehabilitating beggars. I came here to inform that there is one in the market street quite for a long time. There is an urgent need to rehabilitate him.”
“In the market street. Near a medicine shop?”
“Yes, yes. In fact I am the owner of the medicine shop.”
“Look here gentleman. I mean Sameer. We can’t do anything about him. Frankly speaking that fellow is well connected. Unless he himself wishes to be rehabilitated we can’t touch him.”
“If he is so well connected, why is he a beggar then?”
“I don’t know. Maybe, that is why he is a beggar. Or he is not a beggar. Have you ever seen him begging? He just sits there and people donate voluntarily.”
“Well Madam, you seem to know so much about him. Still then why can’t he be persuaded to vacate the footpath and live in your beautiful Rehabilitation Centre?”
“That is also a mystery to us. We don’t know. I don’t want to talk further. Ours is a volunteer organisation. It is not a police station. But if you are interested in a loan, here is the card of my brother who has been transferred to Nehru Nagar branch.”
Strange lady. I wanted to get the beggar rehabilitated. All she was interested in was to get me an unsolicited loan. I felt the lady was in conspiracy with the beggar. Why only the lady, the whole universe was conspiring to see that the beggar was stationed there for centuries to come.
(To be continued)