“Please give me some food!” he kept asking every time a pedestrian passed by. He didn’t look at their clothes or belongings. He just begged.
I saw this beggar everyday as my modest restaurant in Beach Road, Australia was just across the street where he daily stationed himself. He had a long beard, brown eyes and dry, flaky skin. Whenever he spoke, he sounded astonishingly convincing. Passersby tried their best to ignore him. He was a beggar not worthy of their attention, of course! However, their eyes landed on him unknowingly.
There was something mysterious about him. What exactly was it? I couldn’t understand. I am sure that I didn’t alone felt this helplessness. On daily basis, while I read the newspaper with a hot cup of tea, I saw a black limousine halt in front of him. A sophisticated man in his mid-fifties came out and paid him. He invariably wore a neat black coat. He didn’t pay the other homeless people sitting nearby but just this bearded beggar. This was odd, no doubt.
One day finally, I made up my mind and crossing the street asked the richie rich man in black coat…
I: Sir, who are you?
Man in Black: Why do you ask?
I: Everyday I see you get out of your limousine and pay this bearded man. There are other such people around here but you ignore them. Why only him, if I may ask. It is unconventional.”
Man in Black: I am Robert, the owner of a multi-billionaire company. This person you see here (pointing at the bearded beggar) was my partner in the business.”
I: Sorry. What?! What do you mean?
Robert: Yes. The guy you see here was a multi-billionaire too. Coming from a lesser-privileged family of India, settling in Australia and beating the odds he worked his way up. He had a beautiful wife and a cute kid. In an unpredictably life-threatening scenario, he lost his kid. Long story short, his wife left him and he faced severe financial problems due to the infamous nation-wide fraud that occurred in 2017. Today he is here.
Robert: Yes. When time was on his side, he was a like a Sun. Burning with power and shining mightily over his adversaries and friends alike. He had also represented our country in internationally-acclaimed conferences. Could you have guessed that?
I: No. Then why don’t you take him home to take care of him?
Robert (in a hushed voice): To be frank with you, I did. But ever since the bankruptcy and failed marriage, he has lost his sense of direction.
I: What do you mean?
Robert: He suffers from Pyromania, a type of a mental disorder. Another time, when he was at my home, he was showing signs of schizophrenia. It scared my wife. Everyone least expects sanity, obviously.
“Obviously.” I repeated.
Robert: Anyway, I should take off now. Meetings ahead!
I: Oh yes. Sure. Thanks for giving me your time. See you around.
Robert left and I went back to my restaurant. To this day, I see the bearded beggar. He continues to ask for food, a basic necessity of life, to pedestrians. I offer him nearly everyday. Who would have actually thought that he was lavishly rich till sometime back.
Every person has a story to tell. Stories that they have experienced either as the protagonist or as a sidekick. In the midst of this chaos called ‘life’ they have forgotten to narrate it. A narration which can teach every individual innumerable life lessons. Talk to the person sitting beside or in front of you, you will be amazed by their stories.