The holy month of Ramadan is the time when beggars can laugh all the way to their piggy banks. The benevolence of people draws not only beggars to come to old Delhi, but also makes some people to switch to this profession temporarily.
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Take the case of Salim who hits the market with his partner. Both are physically challenged in their arms and legs. While Salim drags himself on the road in a cross-legged position, the other guy lies on his back and drags himself head forward. With cries calling upon people’s conscience and generosity, their collection platter seemed quite rich by relative standards.
When I asked if this is what they do all year, Salim said he usually sells gutka, a mixture of tobacco, betel nuts and other digestive ingredients near Agra. But they take to begging during Ramadan. Shopekeepers and other passers-by – never a dearth of people stopping to listen in on such conversations – said Salim was lying and begs all year. Salim tried to make a case otherwise – not that it really mattered – and said he will stop begging altogether once he gets married?
Was marriage on the cards? Oh yes, he said. In one or two years. The parents have even identified the girl who is currently studying.
There was no dearth of the likes of Salim – but an old beggar could not be ignored. He lay sleeping on a goods cart in the middle of the street, with a young girl – who could be his daughter or granddaughter – sitting patiently on her honchos by his head. Even as the world passed by in their festive finest, the money just kept coming in. The image of the two said it all.