A facade of poverty.
It was 06.00 p.m.
Both Lakshmi and her companion Ram, after indulging in beggary all through the day, returned to their small hut. She switched on the only light in their hut. She spread a dirty cloth on the rugged floor. Lakshmi poured her day collection from her begging bowl on the cloth. But Ram hesitated for while.
‘Won’t you pour yours?’
‘Lakshmi, after counting your collection, I will show you mine.’
They classified the collection into rupee notes and coins at first. They also classified the rupee notes according to their value. Then they separated the coins likewise. When they counted the total collection, it was two hundred and sixty rupees.
‘Ok, now it is your turn. Show me your collection.’
When Ram poured the contents of his begging bowl, it was almost empty only with a few rupees and coins. When she counted them, it was just Rs 57.
‘Ram, what is this? Your collection has been very poor for the past one week.’
‘Of late, people have become so niggardly. They don’t have mercy for a blind beggar. But people believe in your disheveled hair, dirty face and worn out clothes. But they don’t believe in me. What to do?’
‘I think they suspect your blindness. You are not acting well like a real blind man. You are unfit to be a beggar. Even our combined income is not sufficient to meet our both ends. Since your daily collections are steadily dwindling, I have to revise our monthly budget. My income alone is not enough to run the family. We both eat in hotels. It consumes almost our entire income. How long can I feed you? Oh..no, you are useless. I no longer can live with you. Let us part our ways.’
‘Lakshmi, don’t forget the past. Just think over… When we began living together five years ago, you had no income at all for over a period of one month. It was I who fed you. I am your guru in this profession. You cannot simply ignore me.’
‘Did you feed me without any purpose? You needed me…’
‘Ok, I agreed….Let us wait for a month. I will change my location. Of late our profession has become highly competitive and overcrowded. Even educated people are coming in large numbers. Until they find a decent job, they choose our profession to earn part time.’
‘There is no use of speaking empty words. What you earn matters. I am still young and so I want to enjoy life. So, I take leave of you.’
‘You reckless bitch!’
Lakshmi did not mind those words. Lifting her luggage, she slipped into the darkness.
‘Marvelous. Your rehearsal is over. Both of you performed exceedingly well. I hope you will do well on the stage also. I am really proud of you. God bless you, my students.’
‘The credit should go to you madam, for writing this small play.’
Both Anitha and Swapna were proud of their teacher.