Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Beggar

Once upon a time, there was a young beggar who lived with his father, an elderly beggar. The elderly beggar no longer used to beg, however. He depended upon alms which came his way without any effort on his part.

The young beggar, however, needed a lot of things and did not look decrepit enough that people gave him alms of their own accord. The young beggar felt bound by the care that his father needed, and decided one day to part ways and go to the city where all the beggars were provided for by the king.

On the morning that he was to leave his father, his father held him close and told him cryptically: "Do not look towards the east as you continue towards the west."

The young beggar did not understand it fully, but started on his journey.

What the young beggar really wished for was to drink a wine that he had heard about from the people who came to give alms to his father. This wine was supposed to heal all aches and pains.

In the city of beggars he met another beggar, a woman, who had come from the west. The woman beggar was as much a beggar as he was, but she told him that she knew what he wanted and could give it to him. And surprisingly, that she needed the rye bread that he held in his hand. The bread had been gifted by his father.

She had heard from her clan that rye bread healed all aches and pains.

The two beggars exchanged their possessions. The beggar from the east gave her his bread, and the beggar from the west gave him her wine. Both felt free of their aches and pains and loved each other for the precious gift that they had received.

However, within a few hours, their aches and pains returned. The woman beggar wanted the man to stay with her and learn how to make that bread and that wine. However, the man was disillusioned that the bread as well as the wine only acted as palliatives and did not cure the disease which led to those frequent aches.

He took leave of the woman beggar as well, and started again on his journey.

However, he kept looking back towards the east, remembering those few hours free from aches. He no longer remembered what his father had told him.

In the afternoon, he got so tired from walking that he no longer believed there was any point in carrying on towards the west. He thought the temporary abatement was all that he could hope for, and that some other beggar in the city might have a pint of that wine.

Hence, he turned back towards the east.

He met many travelers (beggars, all of them) on the way, some on their way towards the east, some still trudging on towards the west, some dead on the path. He told everyone to turn back and go to the city of beggars, and tried to convince them that a beggar could not hope for anything more than the company of another beggar and to be provided for by the king.

When he again arrived in the city of the beggars, he suddenly saw someone filling a small bottle of wine with her blood, and another one cutting flesh from his thigh and rubbing it in the gray soil to make it look like the rye bread.

He started crying and weeping, and again turned towards the west.

However, by this time, the sun had set and utter darkness prevailed.


Harmanjit Singh said...

Too many "however"s. :-)

Harmanjit Singh said...

I wrote this story after listening, accidentally, to the following Hindi song:

MJ said...

This seems like the story of seeking. A man goes seeking after end of suffering. He is informed by this father that end of suffering (enlightened?) is incompatible with pleasure seeking. He seeks it in romance and does not find it, and continues on his journey. Finally despair catches hold of him, he abandons the path of enlightenment and returns to pleasure seeking, and meets uber-hedonists who are destroying themselves in search for pleasure (drug addicts?). Weeps when he realizes that it is too late and he is dying unsatisfied.

Di said...

Until the realisation comes from within (self-realisation) that one is "purna", "trupt" and whole, one goes around in circles. That "aham brahmasmi" needs to come from within which would then lead to "sat-chid-ananda".

I could identify myself in this story at many levels....someone who left "east", looking for material happiness in "west".

At the end of the day, we all were beggars, whether east or west.

Nice, deep, spiritual story...bit inspired from "madhushala" too, I am sure.

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi MJ,

the wine and the bread were necessary to keep the relationships alive between a couple in the beggar city, and hence that couple were willing to do anything to produce them and give them to their beloved.

what cost relationships between human beings? life itself.

MJ said...

#the wine and the bread were necessary to keep the relationships alive between a couple in the beggar city, and hence that couple were willing to do anything to produce them and give them to their beloved.

So wine and bread are faux love and affection? The problem is that faux love/affection etc is clearly discernible, so the relationship is doomed anyhow.

Also a human cannot escape relationships and cannot escape conflict in it, either way there is a problem.

Arun Kumar said...

I have personally felt the intent to which our relationships pressurize us. At the same time, i believe that being social is our biological need and as soon as we even start being socializing with someone, the pressure of relations starts appearing. No matter how much i intend or try, i simply dont find a relation which is good and undemanding at the same time... but we need both.. is there any wayout?

Biatinge said...

Since not even twenty people in the world can understand you, email may be better.

Su said...

A highly original parable with subtle overtones. Kudos, sport!

Susan said...

Hi Harmanjit,

what if the female beggar also realized the futility of wine and bread and offered to join him in his journey of exploration? Could they have walked together? or was it that once the need for wine and bread was over, companionship could hold no other meaning?

Harmanjit Singh said...

what if the female beggar also realized the futility of wine and bread and offered to join him in his journey of exploration? Could they have walked together? or was it that once the need for wine and bread was over, companionship could hold no other meaning?

Companionship is a joy when it is not a need nor an obligation. Companionship with an understanding fellow human is one of the best things in life, according to me. And though the journey to total freedom can be undertaken only by oneself, there is no reason why one cannot share one's victories, tales and travails with one's fellow travelers, who may be a little ahead, a little behind, or sitting tired.

It will be incredibly fortunate to find someone who has as much of a dedication to total freedom as oneself.

Ennyemp said...

Wow what a yarn it takes the cake in modern art !!!

Katyayini said...

and i would say, cream and cherry on the top. Highly recommend that blogger tries his hand at fiction/story/yarn more often!
Deer and the duck is brilliant too ( male point of view very well counter-pointed by the commentator Susan). Even here she is trying to make space for the woman's point of view.
best of luck!

Oeedin said...

You have done it again---the parable is your metier, no doubt, the medium wherein you can lay bare the profundities to which you are fortunate enough to have access!!

Jeff said...

You have proven that philosophy, even at its subtlest is conveyable through metaphoric parables! Hail !

Anna said...

Reminiscent of Fables of la Fontaine (available at project Gutenberg) in both style and content and depth of allusion.

Juan K. said...

Animal stories unfortunately have become underrated as adult literature---they have a long and honorable ancestry starting from Panchtantra, Jataka, Aesop, above alluded Fontaine and more recently George Orwell's 1984. As you have herein shown it is possible to convey through fables what may be difficult, at least so concisely, with human characters. The medium imparts as it were an addittional degree of freedom. Carry on, young warrior of veracity!

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Juan,

Perhaps you meant "Animal Farm" by Orwell.

Harmanjit Singh said...

Readers might also enjoy the book "From Darkness to Light" (Poems and Parables) by Jiddu Krishnamurti, which though having a strong spiritual undercurrent, contains quite marvelous works of art, especially the long story "The Path".

It can be read at:

Jay Menon said...

Animal motifs are found in all ancient archaeological remains, be they Buddhist, Harrapan, Egyptian or Mesopotanian. Animal worship has been widespread, attesting the feeling of integrity of the unbroken continuum of life. Your assays fall into this time honored yet inexhaustible tradition and series. Please accept my admiration and regards

Juan K. said...

"Perhaps you meant "Animal Farm" by Orwell."

Ya betcher!

Jarnail said...

Di:At the end of the day, we all were beggars, whether east or west.Nice, deep, spiritual story...bit inspired from "madhushala" too, I am sure.

Perhaps the following lament from the long travelled,weary and thirsty "pathik"

चलने ही चलने में कितना जीवन, हाय, बिता डाला!
'दूर अभी है', पर, कहता है हर पथ बतलानेवाला,
हिम्मत है न बढूँ आगे को साहस है न फिरुँ पीछे,
किंकर्तव्यविमूढ़ मुझे कर दूर खड़ी है मधुशाला।।

Andrew said...

Kafka's Metamorphosis and Jonathan Livingstone Seagull are modernists who have effectively used animals as metaphorical devices to convey profundities about life and society. Keep it up, brave !

Manisha said...

Your story quite complicate frankly if you ask me personally speak.

Sid Vomit said...

Nice story about the beggar clan with a dash of Dicken's maybe and another of ye Slumdog Crorepat, and the deluded symbiosis which hath a tragic end---why do your stories have to end sadly--is it that you are a born pessimist, or a guy born to wail and lament, and your life indeed is a vale of tears---you might compile your stories into an anthology with the title "The Vale of Tears", eh?

Emily said...

Is life a vale of tears?? That is the question so what say we?

Ron Ghosh said...

As they say nothing of itself is good or bad but thinking makes it so---hence if you think its a vale of sorrow it is and if you don't it ain't!

Di said...

To Jarnail:
THank you Sweets!! I feel as if you are complementing on work that I penned myself! We love our madhushala, don't we.
One more:
जो हाला मैं चाह रहा था, वह न मिली मुझको हाला,
जो प्याला मैं माँग रहा था, वह न मिला मुझको प्याला,
जिस साकी के पीछे मैं था दीवाना, न मिला साकी,
जिसके पीछे था मैं पागल, हा न मिली वह मधुशाला!।९०।

Di said...

Kaise Yeh Ishq Hai
Kaisa Yeh Khwaab Hai
Kaise Jazbaat Ka Umda Sailab Hai

In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein
Pakiza Se Riste Hain
Koi Kalma Mohabat Ka
Dohrate Farishte Hain

Jarnail said...

Thanks Di ,

HRB again:
इस पार, प्रिये मधु है तुम हो, उस पार न जाने क्या होगा!

Di said...


चाहे जितना मैं दूँ हाला,
चाहे जितना तू पी प्याला,
चाहे जितना बन मतवाला,
सुन, भेद बताती हूँ अन्तिम,
यह शांत नही होगी ज्वाला।
मैं मधुशाला की मधुबाला!


Jarnail S. said...

That was a nice one. Here's a familiar one.

Hue mar ke hum jo ruswa, hue kyun na gharqe darya
Na koi janaza hota, na kahin mazhar hota

Mirza Asad

Di said...

This gujarati kuddi doesn't understand urdu...urdu mere palley nahi padti...


Jarnail S. said...

So you are a kuddi as suspected and a Gujarati one at that. I remember Rajesh Khanna's jaunty statement in the film Anand: Hume Urdu phurdu nahin aati. Anyway my own Urdu is also limited but it's 49% Hindi so we all have a bit of it. And one can cobble together the meaning since most of the books give it in Devanagri script and meanings of unfamiliar words. Ghalib is certainly a very great poet. The quoted lines are among my favourite and can be traslated so:

Even after death we were badnaam.
Had we perished of drowning
Neither would a funeral be
Nor a stone to mark my ignonimy.


Di said...

Jarnail, is another one....though a lot of it (urdu-shurdu) escapes me...par phir bhi....I feel like saying "bahut acchey:

Hazaron Khwaishe Aisi, Ki Har Khwaish Pe Dum Nikle,
Bohot Nikle Mere Armaan, Lekin Fir Bhi Kum Nikle,
Nikalna Khuldese Aadam Ka, Sunte Aaye Hai Lekin,
Bohot Beaabroo Hokar, Tere Kuche Se Hum Nikle

Mohabbat Main Nahin Hai, Fark Jeene Aur Marne Kaa,
Usi Ko Dekhkar Jeete Hai, Jis Kaafir Pe Dum Nikle

Khuda Ke Waaste Parda Nakabi Si Uttha Zaalim
Kahin Aisa Na Ho Yum Bhi Wohi Kaafir Sanam Nikle

Kaha Maikhane Ka Darwaaza Gaalib, Aur Kaha Waaiz,
Par Itna Jaante Hai, Kal Woh Jaata Tha Ke Hum Nikle.

Hazaron Khwaishe Aisi, Ki Har Khwaish Pe Dum Nikle,
Bohot Nikle Mere Armaan, Lekin Fir Bhi Kum Nikle,

Awesome naa?! Now Harmanjeet won't call Ghalib a "out and out" spiritualist, would he???

Di said...

Jarnail...your poetry is very dardnaak (like khatarnak....LOL).

Bhai, I like humor. For me you and Harmanjeetbhai are very serious people; like devdas; crying away for no reason.

Do read my humorous remark to his latest blog (which the editor didn't chop-chop-chop).


Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Di/Jarnail:

May I suggest that you post poetry on the bazm blog post, and that you flirt with each other over email? Why put a moderator between yourselves? :-)

Jarnail said...

My dear Harmanjit Singh Ji "Othello",

Tusi aine liberated kissam de bande apne aap nu dasde ho ki mara mota uggarvad vi tuhanu asani naal hazm ho jaoonda hai ate pher niki jai poetry exchange ton kyon khafa ho jaoonde ho. Aini vi ki symmetry ki poetry bazm de hethan hi aa sakdi hai thori jai non linearity vi ik cheez hai. Thora jaya lakeer to hatna vi sikho.

And if this be your idea of flirtation I would say you should smoke a hooka....

Di said...

@Jarnail....not fair....translation, translation pleaJ. You are trying to patao Harman with shuddh panjabi but it ain't gonna work, if I know my Harman!!!

Taking a big sutka from my hooka:
@Harmanjeet-saab aka Othelo:
echoing Jarnail's sentiments: Chill dude. Khulam-khula flirting is better naa...isleeyay. Anyway it is better to see love growing on your blog post then war, do you agree?? I am sure Richard would :)

Jarnail said...

Main to siraf aapke majnooh ji ko yeh samjha raha tha ki yeh internet ki oot pataang duniya hai aur sab naquab ohre hue hain---kisi ka kuch pata nahin mard hai ya aurat, buddha ya jawan,sacha ya jhoota, ek ya do. To main bola bhai, tu vaise bhi thora disturbed sa rehta hai, aur bojh na le---thora sa shero shairi gaana bajaana, dol nach chalne de, tere blog ka kya ghis jaye ga? Theek? Aur thora gaur farmaiye Meer ki do panktian pesh hain:

Yoon to ghabra ke kehte hain ki mar jayenge
Mar ke bhi chayen na aaya to kidhar jayenge.