36, Sarovar Bunglows – Poverty


My mobile phone has alarm set at 5:30 AM every weekdays. I enjoy couple of hours more sleep during weekends just to pamper myself. But this Saturday was different. I woke up early in the morning without an alarm clocks buzzer. I was excited to meet Girish but I realized that I had not fixed a time with him.

Went on a morning walk with my headphones playing the latest audio book that I bought. For sometime I was looking at the roads, people and trees around me while jogging but when the story in my audiobook went intense I was completely out of this world. It was a book about the life experience of a soldier from the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden. The scene was where the commando had shot the man assuming Osama but not sure whether he is Osama or not. He was not able to believe that he could kill The Osama Bin Laden so easily without a fight.

A tap on my shoulder irritated me and I had to pause the story to turn back. One fellow morning walker was asking for time. He was aged around 80 and did not have any watch. I did not expect him to have a mobile phone as well. I was still irritated thinking, he could not find anybody else to ask for time. I answered him and again started playing the audio book. I sat on a bench to finish the story before I resume my jogging.

The commando was asking the crying lady in that room “Who is he” and she was not responding and the kids were hiding in a balcony. The suspected Osama’s body was lying on the floor. The commando went to ask the kid, “who is he”. That kid was scared and was mumbling. The commando asked again and again.

“Son, Do you have a pen?”, the same old man who asked for time came and asked me standing in front of me. I was extremely annoyed this time. He was asking loudly and by the time I answered him by nodding my head to say ‘no’ and turned the focus to the story, the kid had already responded. I was extremely annoyed with that old man. It seems for him I am the only person in this park. I rewinded my story for couple of seconds and again started playing. But unfortunately my cell phone battery got discharged by then. I could not finish the story. I removed my headphones and saw the old man walking out of the park. I was still angry with him.

I tried to complete my walk but was disturbed due to unfinished story. I was walking in a hurry to go home so that I can charge my mobile phone and finish the story. “What about our scheduled meeting?”, I heard a voice while coming out of the park.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Girish’s voice. I turned back to see he was sitting on the road in squatting position with an empty bowl in front of him. In short he was begging. This was more shocking than anything else but I did not react. He got up. Took all the money from his pocket and couple of coins in his bowl and gave it to a fellow beggar who was physically challenged in many ways. He came to me and asked, “are you done with your morning walk?”. I answered, “I ended it halfway as I have to finish reading a book.”

He laughed loudly and said, “So, then you do not have time now to speak.”.

“No.. No.. I wanted to speak to you. Let’s go inside the park.”, I responded.

We went and settled in a bench and I asked him, “Why do you lead such life? is it to help the poor? I mean social service”.

He looked at me and said, “Poor. Who is poor? What is social service.”

“I mean who does not have money or resources to lead a normal life.”, I answered hesitantly.

“Poverty is a mindset and does not have anything to do with money. Your need vs your belongings is a fight which everyman goes through every time. The moment your needs win, you are poor and when your belongings win you are a rich man. I have seen people with money begging for things in front of people who have less money. I have seen people who earn only enough to meet their needs spend a large portion of their earning in feeding the hungry.

I have seen good 17 years where I had enough money to feed at least 1000 people every day. I used to own the costliest car in the country and spend my nights with biggest celebrities in big hotels. I was feeling as if this entire country is my own property. Every door was open for me due to my money power. I used to own bunglows in every Indian city. But I was still poor. I was begging for happiness, excitement and hunger. I had all luxury but I was not happy or excited. I had money to buy any cuisine but had no hunger. I was going terribly mad. I started doing crazy things to entertain myself but nothing helped. The reason is my needs were something else and I was accumulating wealth of something else. I knew I need but was not clear what I need. I wanted to satisfy myself as well my friends with money but was not sure what their quest is for.

One day I realized that I am amassing what I do not need and there were no place for the things I need. One day I decided and planned the events so that people can loot my belongings. So today I have got rid of all the things I never need.

I stay in footpath so that I can create the need of a big house. I wear rags so that I can create the need of dresses, I stay hungry so that I can feel the value of hunger. I want needs to overpower my belongings. I want to feel the richness of life by becoming poor. I want to be misunderstood so that one day people can understand me. I want to be lowest so that I can one day rise. I need life to treat me not become a burden for me.”, he said.

I was sure that I understood what he said but could not understand him. I asked him, “You mean you are trying to be poor but you are not able to. If you would have wanted, you could have given all your money to some charity and become a poor man on a single day. This does not sound logical to me. You can do so much help to the society by becoming rich. I am sorry but I am not convinced.”

He said, “You need time to understand and this is not the right time. But I am glad that you are being honest. I have some work now, I have to leave.” and walked out of the park.

I sat there for sometime thinking about what he said and then went back home to resume my life.

— To Be Continued

Namaste!!

– Stray Dog

4 thoughts on “36, Sarovar Bunglows – Poverty

  1. sakti bhai
    You are great, as usual.. I wonder, if you derive such inputs from real life in Gujrat, really? Whatever, it is, I could visualize the whole scene and am still trying to contemplate the truth, which is far from logical!! Of course, to make an argument based on logic, not philosophy, the old man’s definition of begging is bullshit except the fact that politicians go on begging for votes. Other rich men just loot or gather money (may be in an unfair way) but the poor who kind of help in amassing the wealth for them have no control in changing him, becoming poor.

    • Thanks Subrat. I have seen rich beg.Begging for love, respect and companionship. Thankfully you can get materialisting things by looting or snatching but emotions take turn only when they feel like. More than the hunger of food the hunger of true love and care keeps a man awake for nights. You will find many rich taking sleeping pills to get a good night sleep but still not getting it. Would you call then rich? I would call them poor people with money.

  2. Sakti, thanks for bringing to our attention how technology can isolate us and keep us from processing what’s happening around us. It reminded me of what I saw last week on the bus. A young woman absorbed in a conversation on her cell didn’t see the bent-over elderly man behind her who could have used the seat she took up closest to the door.

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