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SHORT STORY: CHEATING IN THE GUISE OF A BEGGAR

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Beggary is the ultimate nadir in anyone’s life. When you can’t do anything worthwhile in your life you beg and that could be for any reason. But there is a greater low than the reality of a beggar and that is when you cheat someone by acting as a beggar or in the robe of a beggar. Though, there is a huge difference between a beggar and a cheat there is a greater difference between a cheat and the cheat who cheats in the guise of a beggar. This may sound a little confusing as to how one can cheat someone by camouflaging himself as a beggar.

    In this context let me narrate to you and old episode. This was when I was posted in Chennai working for a company many years ago. I was once on a day train from Chennai to Madurai with two of my colleagues. It was a non-ac compartment where we were having a heated debate on some business issues. This was when an elderly looking blind beggar walked in. He was wearing goggles. We all felt very sympathetic towards him. He was being led by a young lad who was holding his hands and it appeared as if the lad was his progeny. Soon the blind beggar started imploring for alms in Tamil and refused to budge from the compartment without it.

    With his unwanted presence there, I felt our important discussion was getting derailed so I quickly searched my wallet in which the lowest denomination that I could find was a hundred rupee note which in those times was a decent amount that I pulled out and gave it to him in a jiffy. My junior colleagues looked at me somewhat wonderstruck at this liberal gesture of mine, but in reality I didn’t have change so I gave a hundred rupee note, because I quickly wanted him out of my compartment to stay on course with our discussion. And, almost immediately, with lightning speed the boy and the beggar moved out of the cabin, perhaps, they were fearing I may have a change of heart and may call for the note back.

    After that, things settled, and our meeting continued. Thereafter, an hour or so must have passed, and we were all taking some well-deserved rest after the heated discussion was over when a colleague of mine went out of the compartment, I guess to the loo. After a little while he returned, but by then the train had started slowing down, as we were at the outskirts of Madurai Station. He requested me to come out of the compartment immediately to see something. I asked what? He didn’t reply on the contrary he started walking through the corridor towards the other end of the bogie. I followed him life a kid. To my surprise he quickly crossed the vestibule between the two bogies and entered the other bogie and just stood there as if he was lifeless, and I was right behind him when I couldn’t believe my eyes.

    The beggar had taken off his goggles. He was not blind and was counting all the money in the form of notes and change that he had fraudulently collected from me and the others in the bogie, and the baby faced young boy who was hand-holding him earlier was sitting next to him, and was sipping some hot coffee.

    We had little choice, but to laugh, realizing, even beggary didn’t have ethics. But no, I was wrong, as beggars do have ethics as most beggars, get into beggary only when they are left choice less in life. But in this case the person was not a beggar but he was a cheat of the lowest variety in the camouflage of a beggar who didn’t even spare the sombre identity of a blind man.

    Moral of the story: There are two sections of the society. One that doesn’t support beggary and the other that supports beggary. Even if you’re a supporter of beggary give your alms always to a genuine beggar and not to a cheat veiled as a beggar and of course never cheat a blind man.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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