It was already quite dark. I looked at my watch.. only 6 pm. Another half hour to while away, until hubby came to pick me up from the mall. A steady drizzle had begun, so I didn’t have a choice, but to remain where I was.
Then I saw them…three young girls/women, with a skinny half-naked baby. They sat in a corner of the footpath, chatting animatedly. A young couple passed by them. One of the women grabbed the baby into her arms, and begged the couple for alms. They shook their head and went their way. I decided they were selfish. Ofcourse the beggar woman caught my sympathetic gaze, and quickly headed towards me. She held out a packet of earbuds and asked me to buy the pack for Rs.10. Now that was exorbitant, but I was impressed by the woman’s industry. Atleast she wasn’t just begging. So I bought the pack, and watched her walk away triumphantly. Hell! I didn’t mind, I might have been duped, but it was for a good cause.
Then came another girl in the dirties of rags. No alms, I was determined. I shook my head sideways, indicating that I wasn’t going to humour her! She didn’t budge. She looked right into my eyes and confessed she hadn’t eaten in two days, and if I could just pay for her meal, she would be most grateful. Hunger pangs are something I don’t want anybody in the world to go through. Especially when I was myself in possession of a nice, hot takeaway of burger and fries.
”How much for a meal?’, I asked her. ‘Only Rs.40’, pat came the answer. I suspected she was taking me for a ride, but nevertheless decided she would be fed well. I opened my handbag quite cautiously, and searched for a note. The girl peeped into my bag quite audaciously. The first note that came to my hand was a Rs.100. Too much…way too much! I still gave it to her. She thanked me profoundly and walked away.
In a jiffy, I was attacked. From all sides. By the rest of her gang. Of beggar women.
They swarmed around me, and demanded more money. I asked them to share the cash I’d already given, but they claimed it wouldn’t suffice. I was getting scared now. So I hurriedly pulled out another note from my bag. Rs.10. The vultures grabbed the note, and demanded more. Passers-by actually stopped and stared… savouring the free entertainment for a few minutes. I was at my wits end, not knowing how I would escape the fierce mob of beggars, unscathed. After the two minutes that seemed ages, I noticed hubby driving towards me in an autorichshaw. I managed to break free of the circle and literally ran towards him.
The group of women chased me, as I ran tumbled into the autorickshaw. They tried to grope me and continue demaning their ransom.
I tightly clutched onto my handbag with all my might.
And begged them – to let me go.