The Garlic Of Hunger

What makes a stiff palm lose its rigidity? Perhaps, it happens after a signal that ends a brutal game of russian roulette. No fatality and the bullet of life still lies in the chamber. The beggar I came across is in my opinion another survivor. He is an old bow-backed chap whose countenance evokes instant pity. With his palm wide open; he seldom looks the benefactor in the eye, but a crippled smile of gratitude appears on his lips. His thin habiliment makes his frame shiver, every time the cold surface of a coin touches his skin.

In his prime, he must have worked hard to support his family. With every day, he would have stooped a bit low; witnessing a pole shift, getting displaced from his position of caregiver to the status of care seeker. And now in his twilight, he makes an attempt at standing; he tries blending in with the temple wall, keeping an eye on the footwear deposited on the steps. On one isolated night, when I was on my way back to home from office, I made a stop for a quick nicotine fix. The inverted L crashed into the unyielding encyclopedia salesman. He overtook the mendicant with quick steps, sucking the burden of a day long brush off in a small tube of ingrained enthusiasm. My rehearsed sub-conscious reply sent the character packing. The virgin stage now had a better actor and I was there lingering around the proscenium arch; waiting for the commercials to begin.

He extends his palm for alms and a pearl white wrapper of gum renders me temporarily blind. Someone was bothered by this poor man’s breath; the foul odour of poverty was obstructing the path of garbage stench. But, the destitute was not willing to stifle himself; his rotten teeth weren’t done mocking the floss on apathy. He must be feeling blithe in his own small and insignificant way; he must be ecstatic to be a guardian again, putting his mint flavoured ward on display, listing its fully clothed and concealed achievements with aplomb.

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