I live in Hyderabad. There is a tree in our housing colony. It’s a dead one. Under that tree I daily observe a beggar-woman. She is very old. Her clothes are worn out. She should be eating only once a day; sometimes once in many days. Thus she leads her life – begging, starving.
One day, as I was passing by, I saw a man speaking to her. He was very excited and was gesturing a lot. His conversation was melodious, like a verse in tune. I overheard it.
My agony, my search
My intellect, my suffering
My poetry, my life
All dedicated to you only.
To awaken this
And present before it
You are experiencing
Is my life’s ambition?
I could not make out how much the old woman understood. But the ‘poet’ wrote his ‘poem’ on a red paper, threw it into her bowl and walked away briskly. As usual I gave one rupee to the old woman. After some days a man in a suit was with the old woman. An assistant was recording the details about her daily routine. Then they left in a green maruthi. As usual I silently put one rupee coin in the old woman’s bowl.
Another day I saw the beggar woman in an ambassador car with a man in a khadisilk shirt. Immediately I remembered that polling was taking place that day. After exercising her franchise the old woman resumed her profession – begging.
A few months later, I had to accompany a friend to Ravindra Bharathi for a function Three eminent citizens – a poet, a film director and a minister – were being felicitated. I glanced at the three persons on the dais and felt that I have seen them earlier. Oh, yes, the three were the ‘poet’ the man-in-suit and the man in the khadisilk shirt, whom I had seen with the beggar-woman. The felicitation was a grand success.
I am silently greeting the old woman with my one rupee coin daily. She is lying there, like a lifeless chisel, converting the stony lives of some individuals into beautiful sculptures; unaware of how her miserable state is used by some parasites.
Sanskrit Original: Dr. Varanasi Ramabrahmam
Translataion: By the author