Those were the days of Pongal vacation. I am a regular software guy working at Hyderabad and need to travel to my hometown, Rajahmundry for this vacation. All the ways of transportation between these two places were too busy as all the people of telugu states head to Godavari districts during Pongal vacation(Some people merely come to watch cock fights and bettings). They cook myriad varieties of sweets in every home and people wear new clothes on all the three days of festival. Also farmers get their crop yield during this season. Literally you can see the festive vibes in each and every eye of your vicinity.
It was 6:30 pm in the evening. I called my childhood friend who stays at Visakhapatnam and comes to my hometown to see their grandparents every year without fail. I went to his home and picked him up on my bike to roam on the city. We were basically foodies and stopped at a local fast food center to have some noodles. We ordered for the food and in the meanwhile we were talking about random topics like girls, cinema, career, etc.
Suddenly our eyes caught up a strange thing happening over the other side of our food stall. A 12 years old guy who is wearing no shirt was begging and the people were not even noticing him despite his touching their legs for grabbing their attention.
I said to my friend that it is better to work and earn some money than to fall on their feet for no reason. That guy approached us and started asking for money. I asked him what he wanted to do with that money . He said that he would buy some food to eat. Then my friend told him that take whatever you want here in this stall, we would pay for it. That boy denied it saying " I don't want to eat anything here. Give me some money". I replied him " We won't give you any money instead tell us what you want to do with that money, we would give you the same. " I said this because I saw some street children in our locality getting addictive to drugs and alcohol , so I had an opinion of not doing philanthropy with money. Also my father always insisted me to donate in material they need rather than just putting some money in their hands. My friend was about to give some money, but I stopped him. That boy got very disappointed and started walking away.
After that boy walked few meters my friend called him again and gave him 100 rupees and told him to do whatever he wanted. The moment he took the money, he didn't turn his head back and started running like ussain bolt. My friend tapped me to start the bike and follow that boy. He was interested in knowing what that boy would do with that money.
That boy after crossing two streets stopped in front of a wine shop. He went inside the shop and brought a bottle of cheap liquor and some food. My friend got enraged seeing this and was about to go and beat him. I just stopped him for a while as the boy kept the bottle inside his shorts and was carrying the packed food somewhere. We followed the boy without being noticed by him.
He walked very fast and reached a slum nearby. We stopped our bike at the end of the street and started walking towards the hut in which the boy went. We heard a person coughing very hard and we were initially reluctant to step inside the hut. But out of curiosity to know what the boy was doing, we went inside the hut where there was no electricity. A lantern was held hanging from one of the wooden beams through which we can see a lady resting on bed.
She was nearly in her thirties and appeared to be very weak in health. The boy washed his legs and came opening the back door. He was worried to see us and started to fall on our feet. Her mother woke up from the bed and without even asking what happened, she started pleading us not to punish his son.
We then asked her why she wasn't sending that boy to school instead put him into begging. She replied "Sir, I have been working as a daily bonded labor since two months after my husband died. It was very difficult for us to eat completely with what I earn. Sunday or any holiday would literally mean a 'water meal day' for us. Earlier he was going to a nearby school and used to bring some food fed to him by keeping the food in his shorts and we used to eat that food during night time. But now being vacation, there is no chance of filling up of our stomachs. Due to the body pains I had during the work, I wasn't able to sleep in the night. For that reason I take this liquor everyday night so that I can get some sleep. But for past few days I got affected with viral fever and was not able to go to work. Since the school is on vacation, we had no source of food and he was staying at home to look after me. As he is too small to work, he had no other option left except begging. Three days back, two policemen came and warned us about buying liquor, as he is minor. We didn't had food since that day. I felt very hungry and told him to buy some liquor for me, so that I can be with this empty stomach for few more days. It was actually my mistake sir. Please don't punish him sir. Show some mercy and leave us. We would never repeat this. "
Myself and my friend were shell-shocked by listening to her explanation. It was actually a tight slap on both of our faces. I remember saying that there is festive vibe in every person we see. No, there is other side of the city where the children feed their families with the mid day meal scheme in their schools and it being vacation they suffer from hunger on all these days. We easily judged the boy when he asked only for money and bought liquor. We thought that he was begging in order to satisfy his addictions. We were in fact getting ready to thrash him. But a second of our thought stopped us and took him to his place where we were blown away by seeing the reality.
We gave a smile to the boy, took him to hand and hugged him. Tears were coming through my eyes unknowingly. Later we helped them in our capacity (I don't want to mention it here). Now I don't see that slum near my place neither that boy anywhere.
Many of us do these kind of judgements very often and come to a conclusion without knowing the reality. But from then me and my friend decided to donate in our capacity without even a single thought of suspicion. There may be a chance of getting betrayed, but there can never be a chance of a mother having sleepless night and food less plate.
Lastly I want to mention that "In this world I see there is a mother searching for new cooking videos in YouTube on one side and another mother searching for food grains in her house on the other side."