The Beggar

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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The Beggar Our car stopped at the intersection and waited for the green light. My boyfriend and I were very excited with the beautiful Friday afternoon. The wind was blowing on my face. My body was swinging with the sounds of drums and clarions from the radio's music. Out of the window, I stared at the strange people who were walking down the street collecting donations. A lady came up to our car and with a smile on her face, softly said, "Please! Would you mind giving us some money so that we could have enough food for the animals in our zoo?" I didn't respond immediately because I was remembering an incident that happened two years ago in Viet Nam.

The scenery of the New Year days was so lovely. Birds flapped their wings, twittering in the green trees, and people went in flocks to watch the exciting display of the regatta.

My friends and I were talking in front of my house while watching people passing.

"Look, girl! Do you see him? The man at the corner is your father, isn't he? You look like him"¦ha"¦ha"¦ha," my friend, Tom, was laughing at me.

My face turned red. I said, "What's wrong with you, people? Don't joke like that"¦please." I was really embarrassed and mad. I knew they were still teasing me and assuming an untrue relationship between him--the beggar--and me. But I didn't care much about what my friends said; my mind was now pointed to that beggar.

The presence of the old man sitting with arms clasping his knees broke the noisy atmosphere. I didn't know his real name, where he came from, or who his family was, nor did anyone in my small town. He was a very mysterious man. Once in a while, some spoiled children saw him; they threw sand at him, yelling, "Beggar man"¦beggar man"¦." From that time, "Beggar" became his name.

*He looked so different from everyone else. Immediately, at the first glance, anyone could recognize he was a poor beggar. Beggar wore a threadbare, faded brown shirt. Especially, while he was sitting, his back was bent like a thin C. His long, disheveled and tangled hair was full of dust. The bushy beard all over his black face curled and covered around his black and blue lips. He was just like the weirdest prehistoric person I had ever studied in my history class. He stared at his empty, small, ragged bag, empty except for a few cents. He stared at that bag with his soulless eyes. He was silent like a shadow.

The people living near there were shouting at him cruelly, clapping their hands, and saying, "Beggar! Get out of here! "¦Beggar! Get out"¦," but he still sat there quietly. They did that because they thought he would taint their homes. It seemed he didn't hear anything. I wondered why he didn't move to another town that might have a better life for him, or maybe he wasn't welcomed anywhere he went. At the same time, a lady wearing a dress with a low-neck line holding her lover with one arm while the other held a cigarette which she smoked quite professionally, pointed her face up to the sky as if she didn't want to notice that poor ragamuffin's presence. They tried to pass him quickly. But before they could, the beggar turned up his face and looked at their backs, his voice broken, and whined, "Please"¦ give me some money"¦ God bless you." His two lumpy, rugged hands shook the bag uncontrollably toward them. Realizing their negative response, he lowered his wrinkled-up face. Silently, his eyes closed as if he accepted his poor destiny. How pitiful for him! Time after time, he still sat there, desiring only some very small present from warm, kind-hearted persons. And again, he stooped lower, his two hands tightening even more. He understood how ill his old body was. In addition, he had no family, no friends. He had nothing. All of them pushed him to accept the beggardom that seemed the life for the lowest class in the society. He felt no confidence in his present life. Because of that, maybe he thought he didn't have any right to respond for his honor and also he was really tired of struggling for his difficult and lonely life. As a 17 year-old girl, I was very lucky and happy to live in my beloved parents' warm fostering. I couldn't imagine how I would act if everybody treated me with such a frigid attitude. I felt my blood freezing. Suddenly, tears were in my eyes, and also in my heart. His body shivered in the cool spring breeze.

"Hey, Vy, where are you going? Hey"¦hey," my friends were screaming.

As I crossed the small rough street, my heart beat faster and faster. I whispered to myself, "Come on. Don't be nervous! He won't hurt you." I felt some coins and paper money my mom gave me as a present for the New Year jingling and mixed together in my pocket. I put all of them into his bag and immediately rushed home, swift as an arrow. I couldn't exactly explain the strange feeling coming through my body; I was smiling all the way home.

"Good job, girl," Tom said. We were quiet a moment, all of us looking at him. Beggar's face seemed radiant with a gentle smile. Suddenly, he turned up his eyes and it seemed that he tried to say to me warmly with a confident smile as if he had just found a good friend for himself, "God bless you, my child." I was smiling again and said softly, "You are welcome." " Vy"¦Vy"¦ What are you thinking about?" My boyfriend beat softly at my shoulder.

"Huh"¦nothing. Did you give the lady money?" " Yes, ma'am." I was smiling. The car was still running, and my mind was still picturing Beggar. Although that money couldn't bring to Beggar a comfortable life forever, I thought, at least, he wouldn't be hungry and didn't need to think much about the meals for that evening and some of the next cold days. My heart had been filled with compassion for him. He was still struggling for his pitiful life. Looking at the beggar before I had gone with my friends for the festival in the downtown, I had realized that his eyes were glistening with firm confidence. He left his footprints in my heart. Both of us, Beggar and I, had the same thought: in this world, not everyone is a callous person.