A Story by Riaz

A Look into the sad life of Beggars in India!


My head felt dizzy and the whole place seemed to shake before my eyes. The wall in front of me was bare showing bricks and metal rods at several places. For a moment, it looked like I was standing up. But I was not. I tried to move my legs but I couldn’t. There was no sense of it being there at all. I continued with my antics to move from my current position with no luck. Run out of ideas, I turned my head to the right. My eyes, still a little blurry, could make out some shapes now. A table, cup of porridge and something small and blue nearby.
Where am I? I asked myself.

I could barely breathe. I turned back to the wall and I could see shapes now which weren’t there before. Baba was sitting on a wooded plank with wheels, looking in all directions, with his ragged dress and his half burnt legs. His hair was dirty and so was his face. Almost all of his teeth had fallen out except for the two in front. He had a plate in his hand.
There I was, standing behind him, pushing him into the traffic.
“Push harder, Munna”
“I..I... am trying”
I tried my best to push him. The plank was heavy and so was he. My body has been aching badly for the past few weeks and the pushing made it even worse. Baba was singing in his gruff voice; the usual line.
“Ayya*, give us some money. Haven’t eaten in three days! Ayya, Amma!”
Some people threw coins into the plate while some just looked in the other direction as though they haven’t seen us at all. Some screamed at us.
“Get lost!”
“F*****g a*****e, coming in middle of the traffic”
And there was police sir. He drove us off most of the time but for the past few weeks he hasn’t. He stood there under the lights signaling the traffic, his eyes trying to avoid us.
“Don’t just stand there. Shout! We don’t have much time!” Baba called out, pushing my hand off his shoulder.
“Ayya, Amma*” I cried, my hands stroking my tummy.
The morning ordeal came to an end when the sun was right above our heads. Baba was counting the coins while I slowly walked over to Anu. She was sleeping under the hot sun, her broken hand stuck out in an awkward position, swollen. I bent down and placed her hands neatly above her chest. She opened her eyes for a moment, in pain, but closed it again. She has been sleeping like this for a long time now.
“You know, she has to get up tomorrow” Baba called out.
“But she is not well, Baba” I said, standing up and walking over to him.
“Nobody is healthy here, Munna. Here, get her something” he said handing over a 2 rupee coin.
“Baba, give me one more”
“Get lost! We have got only 10 today and I have to give 4 to that police sir”
“What? Why?”
“Our fate! “He growled.

“Son, open your mouth”
I came out of my reverie. A lady in a white uniform was standing beside me.
“Come on, open up, I have lots of work”
I slowly opened, while she put the blue thing into my mouth pouring some water with it.
“Swallow now. Come on” she said, walking over to the bed beside me, where an old woman sat staring at me. The blue thing tasted fuzzy but the pint of water made me feel better. I gathered some strength and lifted my head. I was lying on a broken down cot with no bed or sheets unlike the one the women was sitting on. That was all the energy I had. My head fell back on the cot, making a loud noise and my head started aching again. I slowly tried lifting my left arm which sent a shock through my entire body. I gave up. I tried the right arm to no avail, either.
I lay there; limp; my mind travelling from one painful place to another.

Anu sat there on the sidewalk, munching on the bun, while I looked at her. Her arm was swollen as ever and her legs had numerous lesions, which oozed out blood.

She was more fragile than I had first seen her, around three years back. It was a cold night. I was pushing Baba on the way back home, the space below the Guindy* Bridge. It had been a year after we were drove away by the police from the Sidewalk near the Guindy Signal. It was dark and silent during that time of the night. Most of the shops had closed. The wine shops were the only ones buzzing with activity. The other beggars were slowly settling down in their makeshift homes after wrapping themselves with whatever cloth they could find lying on the streets. When we were about to reach the next bend in the road, we heard a child crying in one of the streets on our left. Baba asked me to halt. We turned in the direction of the cry and all we could make out was a hazy image of a baby lying on the sidewalk.

“Munna, go and see” Baba ordered.

I left go off the plank and ran into the street which was cold and eerie. When I came close, I could see the baby, its arms and legs flailing around. The face was red as a result of crying. It stopped crying for a moment when I stared closely. That was when I saw the cute little face of Anu.

“Anna, how old am I?”
“Huh?” I uttered coming out of the Reverie. “I don’t know”
“Oh!” she said, looking at me for a moment and then getting back to her bun.
She looked like she was 4. But I was not sure. Nor was I sure of mine. I always guessed it.
If my guess was right, I was 7 or 8. Diwali* was the marker. The first two Diwalis went by without me knowing what it was. By the third one, I had met Baba who told me about Diwali and its traditions. People wasting their money buying crackers, bursting it right from the brink of dawn leaving the streets heavily littered, lighting lamps after dusk giving the whole neighborhood a shiny glow. But Diwali never ended without people eating good food. I always wondered what good food was like. I had a vague description of my own. There were lots of bun, biscuits, tea and of course, Paratha*. Just the thought of Paratha made my mouth water. The fourth and fifth Diwali were really hectic. Baba took me to the temples.
“People are generous during Diwali” he used to say.
The sixth one was rather bizarre. Baba never talked about going to temple, nor was he doing well. He lay there on the plank, his arms stretched out; His mouth wide open. Anu sat there, looking at him, waiting for him to get up and give her money so that she can buy her first bun after three days. That was the last Diwali he was with us. During the usual morning routine, he looked tired as ever, while I pushed him harder into the traffic. He didn’t shout nor did he lift his hands. His face drooped and he made a moaning sound.
“Baba, wake up” I said shaking him. He looked up one last time, his eyes bloodshot while he fell down from the plank onto the road. The signal turned green and the passers-by shouted at us for blocking the traffic. Blood was trickling down his wide open mouth. I sat beside him, shaking him, screaming out his name.  Nothing! He lay there still.                        

The last Diwali went by, a month back. I had planned to go to the temples taking Anu with me. But couldn’t. The swelling had spread to her other arm as well and she lay motionless on the sidewalk, with flies all over her face. Day by day, her health became worse and I could not remember the last time she spoke to me. I was trying my best to get her some food, at least a bun once in two days. But the last time I gave her food, she hardly munched it. I knew I had to do something. Temple was my best bet but I couldn’t leave her alone. Police sir gave us more problems than ever. With Baba, he didn’t touch us. Now he drove me off whenever he saw me getting onto the road which made it tougher to get even a rupee a day. When he went off to lunch, I sneaked on to the road but the traffic was less unlike mornings. Rarely I would get a rupee or two and that was it for the day. On one rainy day, I set out for another ordeal. My mind was focused on only one thing, try getting at least two rupees to get Anu something to eat. The traffic was heavy and I thought I could make more today. It wasn’t easy. Anu had merely a cloth covering her and she was already drenched.
“Ayya, Amma” I called out, moving past the two-wheelers to the four wheelers. Not even a single coin! Time was running out. I shouted. I turned around in all directions hoping to see at least one kind face, but all I could see was disgusted ones. Bad words were hurled at me from all directions. The signal turned green and the vehicles started to move. But I kept moving in between them, calling out.
“Move away, idiot!”
“S**t! Get out of the way”
But I kept on moving. Then it came out of nowhere; a truck, trying to race past the signal before it turned to red, only to get veered off the road, towards me. I started to run but it was too late. The truck hit me squarely on the left side of my body. The impact was tremendous. My body went numb sending me flying towards the curb where I hit my head. That was the last I remember!

“Son, breathe hard!”
I looked up and saw a guy with spectacles. He had something going into his ears and he was examining my chest. My breath came out in gasps. I was suffocating.
“Breathe! Breathe!” he shouted.
I tried, but I couldn’t. The last image I saw was of Anu, lying unconscious on the sidewalk. Then everything stopped. I tried getting up. It was so easy for me now. I flew over the cot and looked down. There I lay, motionless while people in white, ran around me, agitated. The guy kept pressing my chest but I didn’t feel any pain. I was finally free.





Diwali- Indian Festival of Lights

Ayya, Amma - Terms to call people with Respect (Ayya �" male gender, Amma �" Female gender)

Guindy - a place in the city of Chennai, India

Paratha �" A food item made of wheat

© 2011 Riaz

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Such a emotional story here. I really like the imagery and descriptiveness.
This is very wonderful. Your set up was wonderful.

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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Added on June 9, 2011
Last Updated on June 9, 2011
Tags: short story, story, india, beggars, sad, life, look, stories, short stories, award, winning, winner, best, top



Chennai, India

Just another Author hoping to make it big! more..

Prologue Prologue

A Chapter by Riaz

Chapter 1 Chapter 1

A Chapter by Riaz

Chapter 2 Chapter 2

A Chapter by Riaz