The Unfortunate Man (concluding part to a fictional Story about perception)
“Jingle jingle! Jingle jingle!”. The sound of coins stirred him from his reverie. Money always did that to him. Big or small change. It seemed to be coming from outside. “jingle jingle JINGLE” . It came closer. And closer. It was Saturday and a mendicant in white robes was moving around in the traffic with a pot of oil. He had his back towards his car. Few drivers threw a coin or two into the pot. He saw a bangled hand also dropping one into the pot and it fell with a clank. Then the white-robed man turned and he saw his eyes. The same grey green eyes that had caught him two days back! And that smile of contentment. Jingle! Jingle! The sadhu jingled the coins to beg for alms right outside his window. I can ignore him, thought the rich man. He probably cannot see into the car with its film coated windows. As if he had heard his thoughts, the sadhu stood still with the same pleasant look on his face as he had seen before.
The rich man tapped his finger on the power windows, opened just a little at the top and held out a bank note wedged between his two fingers. The mendicant just stood there in silence. He waved the bank note again.
“He must be blind” offered the driver; he had been a silent spectator to this entire episode.
The rich man touched the torn sleeve of the man and offered him the note. The mendicant took the alms and seemed to bless him. A thought suddenly struck the rich man.
“You are blind?” he asked.
“Yes sir, partially blind” replied the sadhu.
“Then how are you able to climb on top of the building?” he asked.
The sadhu was calm , yet surprised. “When did you see me? I worship on the ledge of the tallest building every morning at daybreak.”
“That’s a lie” exclaimed the rich man,” I own the tallest building!” he regretted his words the moment he uttered them, for now the mendicant knew who he was, the most powerful and rich man.
The mendicant only smiled.
“You are blind and begging. Your condition, it’s unfortunate! You should take some more money from me, it will help you.” Offered the rich man reaching for his wallet.
“I don’t want more money” said the mendicant.
“Why not?” the rich man was surprised, “ You can eat better, live better and have a good life”.
The mendicant started laughing his grey green eyes shining as if filled with some force of energy.
“Why do you laugh?” asked the rich man, puzzled.
“With my alms, I get to eat some food, which is enough for my sustenance. I pray every morning thanking God for everything he has given to us. The beautiful trees, the air, the sunlight, which I appreciate as much as I can see from my half blind eyes.. from the ledge every morning. Look around me and there are lovely buildings and well groomed people in fancy cars and smelling nice. Every morning I see your magnificent building and remark that it is a wonder in the world. At daybreak, the first sunlight reaches your building and reflects off the mirrors on the surface and reaches across on our west facing ledge and I receive the blessings each day. ….”
He paused…” And you? What do you see when you get up each day? When you travel on the street ?” he asked the rich man ”..the dirt, the haze, the poverty…..Me?”.
The rich man rolled up his window and fell into deep thought.
What do you think he thought about? Who was the more unfortunate man?