My wife dropped me at the bus terminus to catch a bus to my new office. 

The bus terminus was new to me. A few seats were there in the shelter for the people waiting for the bus. I sat on one of the seats, with a backpack tugged on my shoulder, inside the backpack was my lunch box and a few papers. Waiting for my bus, I observed the arrival of people, they getting into the buses, a batch of them getting down, and dispersing. To me they looked like tides on a seashore.

There was another routine that came to my observation. Every time a bus approached the terminus, a cart rushed near to the bus. The cart was pushed by a middle-aged woman beggar. I noted, that the low decked cart carried a paralyzed body. The head of the person on the cart was slightly tilted to one side. It had a scanty clothing but surely was a living creature.

As every bus halted, the cart was pushed near to the bus. The woman started begging in the name of the sick person lying in the cart. The story she claimed, while asking for help, was that the man in the cart was her husband and he was the only support for her whole family. He suffered from paralysis. She would also say that they needed lots of money for his treatment, and she would ask people to help her. To my not-so-pleasant surprise, the woman collected a handsome amount of alms from every bus that arrived. As the arrived bus would leave, the woman beggar would walk to the shade nearby, for the next bus to come in.

In between, I also observed that she would leave the cart carelessly and indulged in conversations with co-beggars and roadside vendors. She also would have tea and snacks. The body in the cart would be left unattended.

I observed this routine for a few days of my waiting at the bus stand. 

One day, I was waiting for the bus to arrive at the bus shelter. The shelter was almost deserted, but for a few vendors and the beggar. Suddenly it started drizzling. The beggar woman ran towards the waiting place under the shelter. The shelter was a little elevated. She left the cart outside to drench as she could not pull the cart onto the elevated shelter. She covered the man with a torn cloth casually and left the man in the rain. The person in the cart remained without any movement or an expression on his face. 

I felt awkward. How would anyone be so uncaring and insensitive towards a living companion? I took pity on that man in the cart. I could not stand it anymore. At that moment, I moved toward that beggar woman and asked, “Should we pull the cart inside the shelter, so that your man would not get wet?”  

Beggar woman replied, “Not needed. Let that swine get drenched. He won’t die. He would take away my life, and then he would die.” She vented her frustration. 

I was surprised by the way the beggar woman responded. I asked “What happened to him? What is his disease?” I had sufficient time to hear her story. Surprisingly she found a friend in me to pour out her distress.

The rain continued. The beggar woman took her time to narrate her hate story. About ten years back, she loved the man who was lying in the cart and left her home to live with him. He was supposed to work as daily labour to get a livelihood. The pair belonged to a far-off place and there was no acquaintance to get the required support. For two years he wandered with her and earned petty amounts as support.  He would pester her to work along with him in getting their livelihood. 

Then she became pregnant and she refused to go to work.

The man started torturing her. He asked the woman to go back to her parents’ place. She resisted and demanded support for her. He disappeared and she was left with no money. 

She did not have any alternative but to go back to her brothers. There she delivered a baby. She started working as a housemaid to earn her living. After one year, the disappeared man started visiting her and pestered her to give him money for his needs like drinking. Initially, she wanted to take the support of her brothers to get him thrashed and chase him out, instead, she succumbed to love for him and allowed him to be part of her life again. She started feeding him. 

The man continued his tricks of appearing and disappearing at his whim. His wife’s place became a guest house for him. His indulgence with alcohol grew to an intolerable limit.

One evening a few people carried the man to her house in an unconscious state. He got back to a conscious state but he was completely paralyzed, and not able to talk or move.   

The woman was in a big dilemma about the next course of action. She did not have the finances to get him treated. She could not leave him at home and go to work. While contemplating different alternatives, she even thought of eliminating him with some poisonous medicine but then she thought he should be made to suffer. 

The next day she took him to a government hospital. She saw so many invalid people like him. They were lined up and waiting. She did not know the waiting was for what. Certainly, the accompanying people were facing hell with uncertainty. The doctor gave medicines and advice. 

But the woman’s thoughts were in a different direction. Near the hospital, many people were collecting a lot of money in the name of sick patients and even on a corpse. As she was travelling back she decided that this near-death person owed a lot to her. She would take her share of flesh from this fellow before he would die. No mercy for this fellow, for he had destroyed her life completely. 

She got a pulling cart made, especially, to accommodate a semi-conscious fellow. Daily she would clean the body and lay him in the cart. All the time she would curse him loudly. If the fellow has any amount of brain working, the man should suffer. That was her motive. She would choose such locations for a good collection of alms. Surprisingly, the idea started giving her better returns than her working as a maid. She also said that he would survive in this pathetic situation for at least one more year. 

Finally concluding her story truthfully, she smiled and said, “I have avenged my sufferings which I had to go through because of this stupid man.” Saying so, she pulled the cart away. I wanted to give her some help but she did not wait.

I walked to get on my bus.


Vallinath Mangalampalli



Image source Pixabay 



  • Vallinath Mangalampalli

    A retired computer professional. I like writing off beat themes. Generally the characters are taken from average, middle class families. I have lot of interest in reading books about cosmos and western philosophers. I belong to Hyderabad, Telengana.

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