This man comes to our house once in every two days. He stands in front of our closed gate. He stands there without making any noise until my mom comes out of our house to place some hot food on his odd shaped plate. Mom does this to every person who comes asking for alms. She don't ever offer cold food to anybody. She is very popular, as a person who offers hot food to whoever comes hungry at our door.I have seen the sweepers, rag pickers, watchmen etc asking for food when they find my mom at the front gate.
Sure, the sight of him standing there wearing the same dirty clothes covering his thin body, dry and unruly hairs, irritated me.He used to come to our home everyday morning and stood there without calling anyone for alms. Only when any of the family member came out to run some errands, do we notice him standing there.He kept standing there for hours together without making any noise. Mom used to give him food everyday morning. We thought that he was deaf and dumb. I once saw him feeding the stray dogs on the street from his plate. I told my mom about this. She said that somebody would have offered him stale food.
House maid has told my mom that she saw him talking to the people in the nearby bus stop. Mom was angry. She thought that this man was ashamed of asking for alms. The next day mom turned him empty handed. She also scolded him for his attitude. We didn't see the man for months together. He appeared suddenly one day morning and was waiting in the front gate. He looked paler than he was earlier. Mom took pity on him and gave him some food. He said, "Mai, do putra hai mera. par ek bhi mujhe dhek bal nahi karta" ("Mom, i have two sons. But no one takes care of me") and started crying. I was moved by his tears. Looking at an old man who sounded helpless at the fag end of his life made me feel very sad.
We then realised that he speaks in different language. And he wouldn't have understood whatever mom has told him the other day. Because we speak Tamil in Tamilnadu, South India and this old man is from North India.He would have made out from my mom's angry face, that she didn't want to give him food anymore. And avoided coming to our home all these months.
Now, whenever he appear in our front gate, we feel pity for him.I don't get angry any more, when i see this man, standing in front of the closed gate.
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