Beggar9 mins 264 9 mins 264
"Sir, have mercy on this poor hungry soul. I am hungry for the last three days. There is not a penny in my pocket to spend the night. For full eight years, I was a teacher in a village school. Due to the mischief of evil people I lost the job. I have become a victim of persecution. It is since last year that I have remained unemployed".
Barrister Squartsoff saw the beggar's scruffy coat, the intoxicated filthy eyes, the red spots on the cheeks. He felt that he had seen this man somewhere before.
"I am just about to get a job in Kaluga district", the beggar continued, "but there is no money to go there." Please help me, Sir. Begging is an act of shame. But what to do? I am forced. ”
Mr.Squartsoff looked at his rubber boots, one of which was small and the other big in size, so he suddenly remembered. “Listen, three days ago I saw you at the street of Sadowaya ", the barrister said, “Are you the same person? But at that time you told me that you are not a school teacher, but a student who has been expelled from the college. Do you remember it?"
"No ... no ... it can't be", the beggar muttered in panic. "I was a teacher in the village. If you want, I should show the papers".
“Don’t tell lie. You told me that you were a student. You told me also the reason for leaving college.Do you remember?”
Mr.Squartsoff's face turned red with anger. Turning his face in disgust, he retreated two steps away from the beggar. Then he shouted in a rage, "How mean you are, wicked fellow? I'll hand you over to the police. It is true that you are poor and hungry, but why do you lie shamelessly. "
The beggar kept his hand on the handle of the door and looked around like a caught thief.
“I ... I don't lie.” He muttered, “I papers ...”
"Who will believe," Mr.Squartsoff’s anger grew. “The society has shown sympathy towards the village teachers and poor students.How dirty, vile and disgusting it is to derive benefit from the sympathy that the society has shown”.
Mr. Squartsoff became furious with anger and started cursing the beggar badly. The shameless deception by this rogue had aroused hatred in his mind and had insulted the feelings, which Mr. Squartsoff found most valuable in his character. The generosity, sentimentality, mercy for the poor, charity that he gave to those asking with an open heart, were all unsanctified by this impostor.
The beggar kept giving his clarification in the name of God, then fell silent and bowed his head in shame. Then, placing his hand on the heart, he said, "Sir, I was really lying. I am neither a student nor a teacher. I was in a music troupe. Then I started drinking alcohol and lost my job. What can I do now? God is my witness. Without lying, nothing works. When I tell the truth, no one offers alms. By speaking the truth I may have to die of hunger or be frozen in winter, being homeless. What you say is correct. I too understand this. But what should I do?”
“What to do?” You are asking what to do. ”Mr.Squartsoff came near and said, “You should work, what else?”
“I too understand that I should work. Where will I get the job”?
“What rubbish. You are young and strong so why should you not get a job, if you wish. But you are lazy, useless, and alcoholic! The bad smell of Vodka comes through your mouth as it comes from a liquor store. Lies, alcohol and comfort have seeped through every drop of your blood. Apart from begging and lying, you do not know anything else. Even if you take the trouble of getting a job, you may be in an office or a music troupe or somewhere else where you may like to earn easy money without work. Why don't you work hard? Why don't you take up the job of a sweeper or a porter? You think very high of yourself."
“How do you say so?' said the beggar. A happy smile emerged on his face. Where to get a job? I cannot work in a shop because I do not know business. How to take up the job of a sweeper, being from a noble family? There should be some technical skill to work in a factory . I do not have anything.”
"You are talking nonsense! You will always find some excuse. Mister, will you chop the wood?"'
"When have I refused? But today even the wood-choppers are sitting idle."
"This is the notion of all lazy people. If I give a job, you will run away. Will you chop wood in my house?"
"If you want, I will?"
"Wow! Let me see."
Mr.Squartsoff hurriedly called his woman cook from his kitchen and resentfully said, "Olga, take this person to the firewood cell. Give him the wood for chopping."
The beggar shook his shoulder and followed the woman cook.. It was clear from his behavior that he agreed to work, not because of hunger and unemployment, but simply because of his self-respect. It also seemed that he had become weak and unwell due to drinking alcohol. He has no desire to work.
Mr.Squartsoff reached his dining room from where the courtyard and closet were easily visible. Standing near the window, he saw that woman cook brought the beggar from the back door into the courtyard. They both rushed towards the cell, trampling the filthy snow.
Seeing the beggar with an angry look, Olga opened the closet doors, which hit the wall with a thud.
"Looks like I didn't let Olga drink coffee," thought Mr.Squartsoff. "What a poisonous woman!" Then he saw the person sitting on a thick wooden log with his red cheeks firmly held by his fists, and deeply immersed in some thoughts. Olga, after throwing an axe near his feet, spat out of hatred and started abusing. The beggar fearfully drew a swivel of wood, placed it between his legs and gave a weak blow of the axe. The wood fell down.The beggar held it again and after blowing his frozen hands due to cold, drove the axe in such a way as if he was afraid that his knees or fingers on feet would get hurt. The log of wood fell again.
Mr.Squartsoff's anger disappeared. He felt ashamed of himself thinking as to why he made a lazy, drunken and perhaps sick person work hard in winter.
"OK , forget about it."', he thought while going to his reading room," It would be good for him".
Olga informs her boss an hour later, that the work was done.
"Take these fifty kopeks and give him"'
Mr.Squartsoff said, "If you want, come to chop the wood every first date of the month. You will get the work."'
On the first date of the following month, the beggar returned. He earned fifty kopeks even when he was intoxicated due to drink. From that day onwards, he used to come now and then. Every time some work or the other he would do. Sometimes he would remove snow from the courtyard, sometimes clean the closet, sometimes remove dust from carpets and mattresses. Every time he earned twenty-forty kopek, and once, Mr.Schwarztoff even sent him his old trousers.
While moving to his new flat, Mr Squartsoff asked him to help the porters in tying and picking up the furniture. That day the beggar was serious, sad and silent. He had hardly touched the furniture while hovering around with his head bowed down. He was not even pretending to work.He just got shrunk due to shivering cold while other porters made fun of his lethargy, weakness and torn-down odd-looking overcoat. When the work was over, Mr. Squartsoff sent a call to him
"Looks like, my words have had some effect on you”, he said while handing over a ruble in the beggar's hand, "Here is your earning. I see that you have stopped drinking and is ready to work hard. OK, what's your name?”
"So, Lushkoff, now I can get you another clean job. Do you know reading and writing?"
"So take this letter and go to a friend of mine tomorrow. It is a job to copy documents. Work with a sincere mind, do not drink alcohol, do not forget my words. Go"
Mr.Squartsoff was very happy to show the right path to a vagabond. He gave a loving pat on Lushkoff's shoulder and came out upto the door to see him off then shook his hand too. Lushkoff went with that letter and never came again after that day.
*** Two years have passed. One day, near the ticket- window of a theater, a man of short stature appeared before Squartsoff. He was wearing a sheep leather overcoat and an old furry cap. He fearfully asked for the cheapest ticket and gave five-five Kopek coins.
"Hey, Lushkoff!." Mr.Squartsoff recognized his laborer, "How are you? What do you do? Life is fine, isn't it?”
"Yes, everything is fine, Sir. Now I work with the same notary, earning thirty-five rubles."'
"It is God's blessing, Sir”. “Wow, brother, wow. It is a matter of great pleasure! I am very happy. To be honest, you are like my disciple. I showed you the right path. Do you remember how I had scolded you? Your ears must have become hot hearing me. Blessed brother, you have not forgotten my words."'
"You too are blessed." Lushkoff said, "Had I not come to you I would have been cheating people by telling that I was a teacher or student. You have saved me from ruining myself.”
"It is a matter of great joy and happiness."
"You advised me and guided me very well.. I am thankful to you and to your woman cook. May God bless that kind and generous woman. You told me the right things at that time, I shall be grateful to you throughout my life. But to be honest, your woman cook , Olga, has saved me."
"It is like this, Sir. Whenever I used to come to chop the wood, she would curse me, “Oh drunk! You are accursed. Why don't you die”. Then she would sit sadly in front of me and cry looking at my face. “Poor fellow ! He could not see any happiness in this world and may also go to the burning hell. Poor fellow! She used to talk only in this manner. She used to talk to me with great compassion.How much she suffered because of me. She shed so much tears that I cannot express. But the most remarkable thing is that she did all my chopping work. To tell you the truth, I have not chopped a single wood here.Everything was done by her. Seeing her concern to save me, I stopped drinking. Why did I change myself is difficult to explain. I only know that I have improved because of her words and generosity and I will never forget this.”
Yes Sir, now we may have to leave, the bell is ringing for the play to start.
Lushkoff bowed down his head and proceeded towards his seat.
A Russian Short Story By Anton Chekhov Titled "Beggar"
अंतोन चेखव की कहानी ‘भिखारी’
APR 04 , 2015
मूलरूसीसेअनुवाद : अनिलजनविजय