Giving gracefully


During my recent family trip to Mysore we stopped at a wayside restaurant for refreshments. As I had finished eating and was waiting in our vehicle for the others to join me, I noticed an aged beggar asking for money from the occupant of the car parked next to mine. The chap gave a small coin to the beggar who contemptuously thrust it back to the giver, saying loudly, “Keep this precious thing yourself!”

He then slowly limped towards me, eyes wide with disdain. Giving him some money I told him casually that he should gratefully accept whatever is given to him as charity. With a look that seemed to suggest that my remark lacked basic worldly wisdom he blurted out, “Tell me sir, can that small coin buy anything these days for a hungry man? Give us a chance to live with some human dignity!”

Come to think of it, there was nothing wrong in what he felt and said. Not long ago, there was a news item about an appeal from the Beggars’ Association requesting the public to give them a minimum of one rupee as charity in view of the rising cost of living and declining value of the rupee! Though it might seem amusing at the outset, it is thought-provoking indeed and deserves to be viewed rationally — considering that this unfortunate strata is an inseparable part of our society that cannot be eradicated at least in the near future and we have an unwritten commitment to impart a certain hue of humaneness to this scenario.

While the employed get enhancement in their earning in proportion to the cost of living index and the business class devise their own methods of augmenting their income, are not beggars, who have to live in the same world as ours, justified in airing their grievances?

Although there is no compulsion whatsoever to ‘give,’ when ‘given’ let it be done gracefully so that it satisfies both the giver and the receiver. We give food to our maid asking her to take the ‘left overs.’ How graceful it would sound if the same thing is given with a ‘take your share!’

We know of people who donate huge amounts of money to their deity either as thanksgiving or in anticipation of blessings to fulfil their expectations which in no way reflects a selfless grace. Compare this with the case of a well-known doctor friend of ours who recently donated her mortal remains to a medical college for the benefit of her fraternity, which I consider the noblest act of giving with lasting grace.

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