The Beggar | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 24, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 24, 2019

Fiction

The Beggar

Though I called out to the shopkeeper a couple of times, he didn’t heed me. He was too busy rearranging the products on the rack. As I was waiting for him to respond, a middle-aged beggar woman turned up on my left and begged for money from me. At first, I ignored her, but she continued whinning, whereupon I denied her request with a wave of my hand.

At this point, the shopkeeper appeared at the desk and I said, “Please, give me two Gold Leaf cigarettes.” He handed me the cigarettes and asked, “Anything else?” I looked over various goods in the shop and noticed the Surf Excel mini packets. I remembered that my clothes were dirty, and they needed washing. So, I said, “Please, give me one surf excel mini-pack too.” After putting the cigarettes and the surf excel mini-pack into my pocket, I calculated that the shopkeeper owed me 21 taka- 16 taka for two gold leaf cigarettes and 5 taka for one surf excel mini-packet. Opening my wallet, I counted the money and saw that I didn’t have 21 taka in change. Thus, I took out a twenty taka note and a two taka coin and passed them to the shopkeeper. He pulled open the cash drawer, put the money, shut the drawer and without giving me the change, returned to his work. I asked for the change from the shopkeeper and saw the beggar again on my right, begging for money from the shopkeeper now.

A while later, the shopkeeper placed a one-taka coin on the desk and returned to his work. The beggar and I exchanged glances and kept ourselves from taking the coin since neither of us was sure whom the shopkeeper gave the coin to. I felt blood rushing to my face, and perspiration breaking out on my skin, for I failed to differentiate myself from the beggar. I wished to leave the place right away but failed to move. At length, the shopkeeper reappeared, pulled open the cash drawer again, took out another coin and placed it on the desk, pointing to the beggar. Glancing at the coin, I noticed that it was a two-taka coin. Just as the beggar picked up the two-taka coin from the desk, I breathed a sigh of relief and recovered my physical strength. Straight away, I flicked the one-taka coin to the beggar and took off from the place.

Mehedi Hassan writes short stories, poems and articles. He also takes interest in translations.

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