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Black Lagoon (standard:Fan Fiction, 2167 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Nov 23 2010Views/Reads: 1534/946Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A story on city pan handlers



Subba Rao 

Marrayya was a professional panhandler, a profession he inherited from
his mother.  Growing up begging with her mother, Marrayya learned 
by-heart several popular melodies with lyrics changed to suite the 
celebration of Hindu gods such as Krishna, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Hanuman or 
a particular Hindu festival. Some times, he made up lyrics on spot 
praising the devotees to entice them to donate for a just cause of a 
poor beggar like him. 

The temples were crowded on Saturday, a holy day to many Hindus, but
other days of festivities also attracted many devotees. Marrayya 
inherited a space to squat close to the temple entrance from where his 
mother begged for years before she passed away. He made sure nobody 
occupied his place, if Marrayya arrived late at his place, no other 
beggar occupied it from fear of an ugly fight with him. 

The temple authorities allowed beggars to squat in rows on either side
of the entrance to the temple. Beggars at the beginning of the row 
stood better chance of collecting donations than those at the lower end 
since the devotees ran out of their contribution quickly after donating 
to few beggars at the beginning of the row. Beggars fought for the 
coveted forward spaces in the pecking order. Some beggars traded their 
lucrative forward spaces with others for money. 

Marayya grew up with chronic hunger. As an adult, he was small and dark
skinned with sunken eyes. His un-kept beard and shoulder length matted 
hair looked more like brown compressed hanging plant roots that gave an 
appearance of person in perpetual hunger and grief. 

Marayya met his future wife Parwathi,  “Paru” for short at the temple.
She also grew up begging with her parents.   Paru was short and brown 
skinned with her bright eyes could be mistaken for a middle class woman 
if not for the rags she wore and un-kept dirty hair.  Marayya and his 
wife followed their parents' footsteps in begging as a full time job. 

“Paru, look at her, she is rich and generous, make sure to beg for her
sympathy,” Marayya murmurs to his wife pointing to an old lady entering 
the temple. 

When the old lady was coming out of the temple with prasad (flowers and
fruits) in her hand, Paru wasted no time to go after her begging for 
money. “Amma (mother), please look at my empty stomach,” she begged, 
repeatedly pointing out to her own thin, flat stomach almost caved-in 
due to malnutrition 

The old woman threw few coins into the hand of Paru along with a banana,
and walked past Paru, distributing coins to the other beggars in the 
line until she ran out of the change. 

As years went by, Marayya and Paru had pretty good impression of most of
the regular temple visitors and their charitable habits.  They never 
persisted on begging those known to give nothing, and focussed on those 
known to be generous and giving. 

On a particular Hindu annual festival, a short woman dressed in silk
sari with glittering gold ornaments around her neck and wrist visited 
the temple. With the look of goddess Mahalaskhmi (goddess of wealth), 
the woman, a doctor's wife served steamed rice mixed with vegetable 
curry to the beggars.  On this day, Paru brought a huge empty steel 
bowl to collect the food from the Doctor's wife. “Amma , you are 
Mahalakshimi, with your own hands please drop few more servings of 
rice,” begged Paru, lifting the container close to the woman. 

Few feet from Paru, Marayya pleaded with the woman to help his family
eat at least once a day. With both hands underneath a large plastic 
bowl, Marayya held the bowl up in the air like a person receiving a 
gift from the heaven. Between husband and wife, they collected enough 
food to last more than a day. 

The temple attendance was poor on weekdays as the devotees, mostly older

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