Monday, February 15, 2010

Boo and Loo - The Two beggars

Boo was a 10 year old kid. He was kidnapped at the age of six, his left arm was amputated and he was forced into beggary by the biggest mafia in the city.

Every morning he is woken up early by the supervisor of his gang of fellow beggar-kids. They are given half a ‘bhusi-tukray-wali-roti’ each and driven to Pity Road’s signal where they all beg. Now, Boo’s specialty is not his arm-less-ness but his facial expressions. No, they are not fake. They are a combination of real hunger, fear and desperation. Hunger because he hasn’t had a stomach full of food since he doesn’t remember when; fear because failure to the bring back home two hundred rupees a day results in a half an hour long session of caning on his back by his supervisor; desperation because he thinks that the people in those fancy cars are so rich that a ten rupee note would be nothing for them and that they should give him one already.

Most of the time people just ignore him and move on; however, Pity Road is a good place for Boo because almost everyday he comes across a few drivers at the signal who take pity on him so much that they give him a twenty rupee note in a go. Yes, rare luck he has got. Anyway, it ends up in the pocket of the mafia’s head, Mr. Gutter.


Loo is a ten year old kid too. His father died when he was six and that was when his mother was kicked out of the house by her in-laws. They forcibly kept Loo with themselves and made him work all day long. But more than even missing his mother he felt worse about something that happened every night when he went to bed with his unmarried uncle. He had no name for it but he knew it was something very wrong; even the thought of it during the day made him sweat badly.

One night, almost a year after his father’s death, he was awoken by someone pulling his hair. It was not his uncle – he was snoring as hard as everyday –but someone else. He looked up and saw; it was a woman’s hand coming from the window directly above the bed. Soon enough he realized it; it was his mother’s hand! In a thunder he stood up on the bed to see his mother face to face. It was the best moment of his life. She was back, his mother; his loving, caring, sacrificing mother; his only friend in the entire world. She reached out to him and pulled him out of the window that opened towards the main road. Off they ran. They hid, they travelled, they did everything that could take them farther from that house. Later on, they settled at the outskirts of the city. His mother became a maasi and Loo went along with her house to house as a helping hand.

Today, three years later, his mother falls severely ill. She has a high fever. She has had it for a few days and it has kept increasing. Loo goes to the neighbourhood’s doctor, explains his mother’s condition and exchanges a hundred rupee note for a prescription. The doctor tells him that she should immediately be treated or it will be too late while the pharmacist asks him to get seven hundred rupees first to get the drugs. Seven hundred rupees! It is the last day of the month and the hundred rupees he paid the doctor with was all that was there in his mother’s gullak. He runs off to the aunties whom his mother works for but they shoo him off and scold him for not turning up for the past couple of days. He goes to his neighbours but they turnout to be almost as penniless as himself.

He feels the same emotions as Boo’s –hunger, fear and desperation –just in a different way. Hunger for something as essential as medicine for his mother; fear that failure to get the medicine might result in something he can not bare to imagine; desperation because time is running out with each breath. These emotions lead him to Damn Road’s signal, somewhere his father had once given fifty rupees to a beggar just because the beggar had told him how sick his mother was and that he needed money for her drugs.

He stands there at the signal. Each time the cars stop he begs by them. Hours and hours pass but he doesn’t come across one pitying person. Tears well up in his eyes, his mind panics and his body grows numb. The signal stops again. He goes to this really big car and tries his luck for the umpteenth time. The posh-looking man on the driver’s seat ignores him and starts talking to the lady on the passenger seat. Loo notices it’s him he is talking about. The man tells the woman how these professional beggars are controlled by mafias and that giving them alms is like a crime in itself. Loo turns back to him and tells him how he is not a professional, showing him the prescription slip. The man says the slip proves his being a professional even more.

Loo comes back home empty handed to find his life too has gone empty forever.

I wish there was a tool I could use to recognize Boos and Loos at the signals I stop at.

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