Skip to main content

Maledictions of the mendicant

It was a busy day; busy roads, crowded buses, noisy markets and traffic jams. 

As usual, I was returning home after delivering a two-hour long and mundane lecture about bonsais at my College. Since two years I have been teaching the same content to the students of the same College. Three seasons have passed since I first decided to change my workplace, to teach in a better school, or the University; but all my attempts of commuting the job have been futile. I was winnowed out from both the Colleges I had applied in the past few months. 

The day after was a big day: after flunking in the first entrance test and after arduous striving, I finally qualified for an interview at the State University, and it was due the next day. The University was offering a handsome salary to lectors and I did not, at any cost, want to lose this opportunity. Consequently I had been preparing for the next day’s interview for the last few days. Even on my way home, I was reading a Botany Journal while the old lady sitting next to me, in the bus, caught some Z’s as she kept her head comfortably on my shoulder. 

As I turned a leaf of the journal, I could hear the bus driver yelling. I looked outside the window, only to find that the bus, along with a number of other vehicles, was stuck in a snarl-up. As I tried to read the highway-signboard in order to realize where the bus had reached, I could see a beggar, on the road, approaching the window next to my seat.

He was a short guy in his mid-20s, wearing tattered clothes. He was appallingly plump and fine physically brushing aside a few minor cuts on his arms. When he reached my window, he stretched out his hand to beg for alms. Since my childhood days, I have always been scared of begging paupers and although I have donated to orphanages and camps, I have never given a single penny to a beggar. Consequently I pulled the windowpane in an attempt to shut the window, snubbing his mendicancy. 

The beggar, in a flash, began to imprecate me. I was horrified as he continued with his curses, pointing his finger at me. All the passengers of the bus, stared with looks of disgust; some at me, and some at the beggar. Terrified by his curses, and embarrassed by the scene created, I immediately pulled the chain of my purse to hand him some coins. The bus had just started its engine as the jam had cleared by then and before I could open the window, the bus ,fortunately, left that location and the beggar.

I heaved a sigh of relief as the bus left and his gabbling face became smaller and soon out-of-sight. The rest of the journey was untroubled but as soon as I entered my house thoughts of the beggar and his curses began haunting me. That evening all I could think of, were his curses; curses about my life becoming a hell, curses about my loved ones dying, curses about a cloud of  ill luck befalling on me and what not. 
I spent the night trembling out of fear of the future. I spent the night regretting my behavior. I spent the night praying that the beggar takes his maledictions back.  I spent the night wishing that I meet that beggar before tomorrow’s interview and give him as much money as he asks for. 

The next morning I was awakened by a black cat’s mew, another bad omen. On my way to the interview hall, I accidentally broke my wrist watch. This ascertained me that the effects of the curses had begun. I grew more panicky as I recalled the conditions of the cursed woman in the movie “Drag me to Hell”.   At that very instant I heard a thud. It was my carry bag that thumped on the road as the strips of the bag snapped. I was consternated and there was no reason why I wouldn’t believe that curses are for real.

I took a bus to the University and hoped on the way that I meet that beggar again and this time I give him some money. My hopes drowned as I reached the University and there was no sign of that beggar, or any other beggar. I fixed the torn strips of my bag and tried to put the thoughts of that beggar away as I waited for my turn outside the interview hall. The fear of the beggar’s curses just refused to leave my mind. 

But to my astonishment, once I entered the room, the fear of the interview, the present, drove away all the fears of the imprecations, the past. 

Four years have passed now and till this day, I can’t tell whether to believe in destiny or whether curses work contrarily. All I know is that I qualified for the job that day and I am married to a professor whom I met on that very day, at that very University. I can’t say that life was a piece of cake ever since; of course, it had its ups and downs. But also, contrary to my fears, life never became a living hell. It just remained like it always was, a roller-coaster ride, where the downs may be too low, but there are ups for sure.


  1. Gripping right to the end. Keep up the good work.

  2. I liked your previous posts more. Nonetheless, it was a good read. And a good beginning after the long hiatus.

  3. Nicely written. Though I think you rushed with the ending... Next time keep patience when your story has gone longer than expected.

  4. thanks both of u.. (i will try) :)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Self-Help Book

He slicks his dark black hair back with his fingers. Outside, it was broad daylight, offering his dark brown eyes a view of the western part of the city. The neighboring tall buildings remind him he is on the 22nd floor of his workplace. He finishes off the remnants of his black coffee, already cold by now. The half-smoked cigarette burns out on the ashtray. He pulls the ropes of his French window and his cabin is no longer reminded of the world outside.
 He turns his swivel chair with the support of his desk to face a laptop in front of him that wastes no time in taking him to another world altogether. The white striped shirt he is wearing with his dark grey tie match the colors on the back of his laptop that flaunt the initials “S. R.”.
* An unexpected knock on her door wakes Sheena up from her siesta. She reaches for the yellow dupatta lying carelessly on the other side of the bed, as if it was equally tired from the previous day’s work. She wears the dupatta around her neck cove…

The Boy in the Train

"You'll always be late for the previous train, and always on time for the next.” 
― Piet Hein

I rejoice whenever I get a window seat on Indian trains whenever it’s a chair car (otherwise Upper Berth would be my spot), more so when it is the last seat near the door, usually marked 4. There’s always more legroom for those who get the last seat. The TTE (Train Ticket Examiner) sits in the same seat on the other column, marked 1, which feels quite safe for a single woman traveller. When I need to leave my seat for a short break, it’s the TT (in short for TTE) who would watch over my luggage. When I need to ask how delayed the train was, it was again the TT, my neighbour for the journey.
However, sitting near the TT comes with other experiences too apart from the sense of security. There would be travellers without a ticket, looking for a vacant seat, who would sit on the TT’s seat itself pretending it’s theirs and later being laughed at, when busted. There would be people coming t…

Atrocity in a Smart-City - Bhubaneswar

Related Post - Atrocity in a Metro City - Hyderabad
I haven’t had a decent cup of tea in a long time – the kind that refreshes you within seconds. Bhubaneswar has no dearth of tea stalls that do not shy in putting enough milk in the cup. However, the hot weather doesn’t allow one to drink as many cups of tea as one would have while living in Guwahati.
After the third cup of the day, I feel nauseas. And when tea isn’t there to sweep you off your worries, everything else starts bothering you.
When I first landed in the city last year in September I was impressed by how the cabs arrive just minutes after you’ve booked one, how the roads are free of potholes in the major parts of the city, how the highway helps me travel anywhere in twenty minutes even when I live a little outside of the main city.
Perceptions do not take long to change and I am now often reminded of the quote in Sanskrit that says दूरस्थाःपर्वताःरम्याः – the hills look lovely but only from a distance.For when you see t…