MIDWAY: Identity crisis

Pilgrimage is a holy excursion that all want to be a part of. It is a path shown to us by our religion. But I thing otherwise. A pragmatic pilgrimage is giving food to the hungry, clothes to the naked, home to the homeless, solace to the grief-stricken because epics and theologies say, “God helps those who help their fellowmen in misery.”

Unfortunately this does not apply in the real world and people go for dip in the Holy Rivers to wash their sins away. Chaos and confusions apart, we confront weird situations in the temples. Once on my pilgrimage, I had a bitter experience. Some beggars, at least they looked so, were begging in front of a grocery shop near the temple I was visiting. A priest-like person passed by and asked for money from them. Furiously, one of them shouted “why don’t you sit with us then?” He instantly turned red and moved ahead. I was shocked, as I couldn’t believe anyone asking for money from beggars.

Some confusion was created and a security personal intervened while all the beggars, except one, fled from the scene. I moved forward pressing my way through the crowd and dropped a coin in that remaining beggar boy’s hand before he could ask for it. This was what I had learnt over the years that if you want to avoid creating scenes then just give them money.

But to my surprise a commanding voice ordered me to stop. “Are you a millionaire? How dare you mistake my son for a beggar?” he asked. I politely answered that that since the boy was standing with those beggars I guessed he was one of them. “He is my son guarding my grocery from those beggars,” the vice roared. The man then gave me five rupees instead of that two rupees coin I had given his son. I stood there speechless, as I had again been successful in creating a “scene.”

Later I found out that such chaotic scenes are part of any pilgrimage. Whatever may be the reasons behind my embarrassing moment, one thing I knew that this was a serious case of identity crisis. It really wouldn’t be a bad idea for the government to distribute “ID cards” to

the beggars, otherwise people like me will keep mistaking other people for beggars and trust me it can provoke situations beyond one’s control.