Monday, 9 January 2012

I have no mummy, no daddy

Child beggars are a common sight here in India - they can be found in flocks at touristy places and major traffic intersections. Before migrating to India, I was warned by a local Indian to never give any beggar money. Apparently it is all part of a syndicate and they have been trained to master the art of manipulating people's sympathy. The local news have reported that some of these child beggars are actually kidnap victims who are put out on the streets to earn some money for the syndicate.

I believe that there might be some genuine cases of beggars who are subjected to such practices for whatever reasons. My golden rule is that I typically never give beggars money, but instead give them food. On days that I go out, there would be a stash of candies, chocolates and small packs of biscuits for give-aways.

Scene 1
While leaving the Haji Ali Dargah mosque, I was approached by a boy around the age of 8.
Boy: "Mdm, please give me money. I have no mummy, no daddy. Please mdm."
Me: (The strings of my heart were tugged) I gently shook my head.
Boy: "Please mdm, I have no mummy no daddy" (10x).



MC & I continued with the hope that the boy would eventually give up, but he was persistent and walked towards the main road with us. In the end, I told him I'd buy him some food and asked what he would like. He wanted pizza but the queue was very long and our car had arrived.

Instead I offered him an ice-cream, he agreed. An Indian man approached MC as he thought the boy was disturbing us. MC explained what was happening and the man gave a small chuckle and walked away.

Scene 2
Our car was sitting at the traffic lights, waiting for them to turn green. I was reading a magazine in the back seat when I heard a gentle tap on my window. Upon looking up, I was totally unprepared for what stood by our car and reacted by screaming! It was a young boy who had very bad burn marks on his face, neck and chest. I reckon he suffered from third degree burn marks.

I got rather emotional and my driver sensing my distress tried shooing the boy away. I broke my golden rule and reached for my wallet. I couldn't bear looking at the boy and asked my driver to help pass the money on. Till today, I still do think of the little boy and feel very sorry and sad for him.

Scene 3
It was a lovely afternoon and MC & I were walking around after lunch. 2 girls came running to us and started chatting me up.
Girl 1: "Mdm, what is your name?"
Me: "My name is xxx."
Girl 2: "Mdm, where are you from?"
Me: "I'm from Malaysia".
Girl 2: "Mdm please give us some money".
Me: "Nope, sorry. I can buy you food instead".
Girl 1: "McDonalds".
I laughed and said "No, burgers will make you fat." And then I puffed up my cheeks to show them what fat would look like. We three had a laugh at my silliness.
I then called out to MC who was walking a few steps ahead.
Me: "Baby, wait for me".
The girls instantly looked at each other with a puzzled expression and said "Baby???". It then hit us that they were confused how a grown up man can have the name baby.
They ran up to him and started saying "Baby, can you give us some money?".
We walked past a fruit stall and I wanted to make some purchase. I asked the girls to make their pick - they chose a huge watermelon and happily skipped home while shouting out "Bye mdm, bye babyyy!"

From what we have encountered, most of the beggars (be it child or adult) are harmless. They might be very thick skinned and hound you till death and follow you around asking for money. But in the end they will go away if you reject them in a firm, polite manner. 

2 comments:

  1. I read your story with both a smile and sadness. Smile because you're making a positive impact on these beggar's life with your thoughtful donations. Sadness that this is the scene that is a common landscape in India. Steffles

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    1. Thanks S. You are right about it being a common landscape here. Am only doing a small part on my end, hope to do more in the near future.

      It's quite a reality check to show that sometimes we don't really need all the things we think we do. The poor here have so little or sometimes nothing but yet maintain a happy frontier.

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