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Friday, November 14, 2014

Why we in Tamil Nadu are still unable to eradicate begging in public places?

was returning from Madurai by train, a couple of days ago. At Thiruthangal station, an adolescent boy, his hands crippled somewhat, came begging window after window, with very little success. When he knew that I was about to take out my wallet to offer him some money, he made a request to give him ten rupees so that he could eat something for the day.....................

Chapter 37

In the last three months, I had no thoughts other than being with Ambalam. By the grace of Lord Siva, my visions came true. Ambalam miraculously recovered from his stroke. His movements were free now and his speech very intelligible.

“Shall we make a move?” I asked him one day.

Without raising any further question, he said, “I am ready now!”

I had a feeling that I needed Ambalam much more than he needed me. Lord Siva had shown me a project and Ambalam would be an asset.

Radhika gave us a tearful farewell. What a magnanimous girl she was! Single handedly, she had managed Ambalam for a few years without any expectations. We assured her we would soon come back to her for a purpose.

When we reached the bus stand, Mallika was waiting for us there, with tears in her eyes. She knew we were leaving. She had frequented Ambalam more often, when I had stayed with him. Once I asked her whether my talking to her ‘demon’ would improve things and she said the demon was incorrigible. I didn’t know what really was going wrong between them. May be the time had not come for a solution or they had still not learnt anything from their life. ‘Mallika akka was very nice to me, no doubt. Was she equally nice to her husband too?’

We were waiting for a bus to take us to Cheranmahadevi. Somewhere in the background, we heard the voice of a woman singing. We turned around and saw a small crowd in another corner of the bus stand.

The three of us silently exchanged a curious look and slowly walked to the corner from where the music was coming. At the centre of the crowd there was a young mother sitting on barren ground and singing an old Hindi film song. She was holding a baby on her lap. She was fair, tall and looked agreeably beautiful. A worn out cloth was spread in front of her. Though Hindi language was rarely spoken and understood in our State, people in the crowd seemed to relish her Hindi songs. Her voice was very melodious.

“It is from the film ‘Awara’ by Raj Kapoor and Nargis  in 1951 and the music is by Shankar Jaikishen.  Have you not heard the song ‘Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi’?” asked Ambalam excitedly.
How could I know? I had not watched a movie for years. Ambalam was in the army and might have known Hindi. He must have heard this song earlier.

“She sings flawlessly. The same tune, same voice, same energy.” Ambalam was full of excitement.

We went closer. People were moving in and out of the crowd. Hardly anyone seemed to be dropping money for the girl. The little baby was dozing, listening to her singing.

When the song was over Ambalam went closer and told her, “You sing so well. You have a very melodious voice. May Lord Siva bless you! How old is this baby?”

“She is just going to be two now. Please give us some money. No one seems to take pity on us. The baby didn’t have any worthwhile food in the last two days.”

Ambalam looked at me as I put my hands into my pocket. There was some money for our bus tickets. Nothing more.

Understanding our predicament, Mallika immediately withdrew a small purse from inside her blouse, removed a ten rupee note and gave it to that lady. Those days, ten rupees was a big money for Mallika.

“Can you come with us to Cheranmahadevi?” asked Ambalam, without even consulting me.

Mallika gave an assuring look to that lady.

Without second thoughts, the lady bundled her small cloth and was ready to go.

“Can I get some milk for my girl before we go?” That was the only question she had. “You may call me Ambika, Right!” She went to a small tea shop turning back every now and then as though she wanted to make sure that we waited for her.

So, when we boarded the bus, we were a small team of mendicants that included me. Mallika waved her hands emotionally as the bus left. “Keep in touch!” we heard her shouting from behind.

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