I was one of those common people who believed in the stereotyped theory about life that one human is superior to another, until I met this old man wearing rags, with wrinkles that shrank his features, sitting on the road side. “Just another poor old man asking for alms,” I thought. When I walked closer to him, I opened my purse and pulled out a five rupee coin to give him. He looked up at me with intense emotions in his eyes that I couldn’t understand.
I went near him and bent to drop the coin in his withered old palms. He caught the coin and gently called out to me as I walked past him. I looked back confused and assumed he wanted more money. I sighed and took another coin. Before I could offer it to him, he asked me something with a polite voice; the voice of a man who hadn’t eaten for days. He asked, “Why did you give me this coin?” I was surprised and said, “Because I believe it would help you in some way.”
The mystic old man smiled at me. “But I never asked you for it, did I?” he continued in the same polite and weak voice of his. I frowned feeling awkward and I blurted, “I thought you wanted it.” He only smiled broader and it annoyed me. “I sit here all day watching people go past me, most of them do what you just did, thinking they’re helping me but they only insult me by the act,” he said. I listened to this strange old man as he continued, “… I don’t beg and I want nothing from people. I’ve lived my life with respect and I want to continue living so for the rest of my life. Please take this back.” He handed the coin to me with a smile that lit up his calm face. I took the coin from him with a nod, instead of asking him to keep it. I didn’t want to not insult him further. As I walked away from him, my respect for the “weak” old man still sitting there only grew higher.
The king within
It felt like the screen had been lifted from my eyes and everything seemed new. I realized every human out there who’s defeated by life’s situations and hardships has a king within. One might be old or helpless, yet deep down he is a king. Smiling to myself I dropped the coin back into my purse, understanding that the weak are strong.
VIDHYA ANAND, I year, B.Sc Visual Communication, Loyola College
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