When hunger strikes

The man came from nowhere. I looked up and saw him-- bare bodied, hair reddish and knotty, skin swarthy and dirty, a tattered lungi dangling at his pelvis. A bushy face covered his lips that bleated out something unintelligible. 

The previous night a nephew had thrown his wedding party at my residence. In the morning, as usual, some children from the nearby slum came and squatted in front of the house. And I sat distributing the leftovers among them. By his gestures I understood that the man was dumb and he wanted to eat. I felt sorry. I gestured with my hand to suggest there was no food left. But he stood his ground.

Right then, a rustling sound originated in a dustbin nearby. Some mongrels were feeding on the scraps heaped in it. My nostrils were  overwhelmmed by the fetid smell.  The man’s eyes sparkled  as he saw the dustbin. But the dogs would not allow an alien to share their right. So they barked in chorus, trying to build an impregnable defence. He was not to be daunted. The man rummaged in the dustbin until he found some plates with morsels of food. Sitting at a secure distance he began gorging on the decomposed left-overs, leaving the plates clean in no time.

But his ravenous appetite remained unsatiated. He sat crouched, eyes riveted on the dustbin, perhaps thinking whether the dogs would permit him another encroachment.
Deep inside I felt a seismic convulsion. Ashamed, I longed to disown my status as  a human being. I ran to the kitchen. Hurriedly I filled a plate with some chapattis and curry.
  The man flung his thin hands towards the plate. I saw my reward in his glistening eyes. Do our much-vaunted social welfare measures include anything for the forsaken like animals and left only to the whims of a cruel destiny?

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