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The story, A Lesson In Life From A Beggar, is written by Sudha Murthy. Murthy has highlighted a very important aspect through the character Meena. She has shown that it’s never too late to change oneself and that even the tiniest of things can help us inspire.
The story starts with the narrator talking about her friend Meena. The author has known her friend since school. However the author describes her as forever unhappy. Whenever the narrator met her, she would start to feel depressed.
It was as though her gloom and cynicism had a way of spreading to others. She never had anything positive to say on any subject or about any person. Meena always found a way to critic anyone and anything. If the narrator happened to say that Rakesh has come first in his school, Meena used to reply that is so as his father is a school teacher. This happened every time. She never had a nice word out of her mouth.
Meena lived alone as her parents lived in Delhi. She was an only childand had the habit of complaining about anything and everything. She wasn’t a very pleasant company and nobody wanted to visit her. Everyone avoided her like the plague. Soon she got transferred to Bombay and everyone forgot her.
Years later, one day, the narrator found herself in Bombay for some official work. She was stranded at Bombay’s Flora Fountain due to the incessant rain. Suddenly, she spotted Meena. My first reaction was to run, even in that pouring rain. I was anxious to avoid being seen by her, having to listen to her never-ending complaints. However, Meena had already seen her. She caught hold of my hand warmly. What’s more, she was very cheerful! The narrator was surprised to see this upbeat side of Meena and reflected whether it’s truly her.
Meena was delighted to see the narrator and hoped to catch up with her as that, old friends and memories are precious and rare. The narrator was introspecting Meena internally as she couldn’t believe the cheerful Meena. In the three years she had been in Bangalore, I had never once seen her smiling like that. A bit of aging had shown that time has indeed passed, but the change in Meena’s nature is astonishing. The narrator, however, had dinner plans and hence, couldn’t join Meena. Meena requested the narrator to atleast join for the tea. When the narrator said that it’s pouring, Meena cheerfully replied, “So what? We’ll buy an umbrella and then go to the Grand Hotel.” The narrator also said that it would be difficult to get a taxi, to which Meena said that then they shall walk.
The narrator was surprised as the new Meena did not match with the old Meena she had known back in schooldays. Today, she seemed ready to make any number of adjustments. They walked to Grand Hotel, drenched, and made themselves comfortable. Unable to contain her curiosity, the narrator asked Meena what brought her this change in nature and whether it was the work of a boy. Meena smiled, ‘A beggar changed my life.’
The narrator requested her to elaborate. Meena said after shifting to Bombay, she was the same pessimistic self of hers. Nothing made her happy. Until the day, a beggar changed her life. He was old and used to stay in front of my house with his five-year old granddaughter. Meena used to give them leftovers time to time. One day, it was raining cats and dogs. Meena had looked out of her window and cursed the terrible weather. That day she couldn’t give the beggar and his granddaughter their daily quota of leftovers. They went hungry she was sure.
But when Meena looked out of her window, a strange sight met her eyes. The beggar and the young girl were playing on the road because there was no traffic. They were laughing, clapping and screaming joyously, as if they were in paradise. Hunger and rain did not matter to them at that moment. They were happy even in such sorrow. They were happy with whatever little they could get. That moment served as an epiphany for Meena to look at her life in a different way. She realized she had so many comforts, none of which they had. But they had the most important of all assets, one which she lacked. They knew how to be happy with life as it was. From that day onward, she decided to change my attitude towards life, using the beggar as my role model.
The narrator asked her how long it took her to change. Meena replied that it was not an easy process and it took almost two years. But now the wait was worth it as she found happiness in every small thing, in every situation and in every person. The narrator wondered whether Meena give any gurudakshina to your guru. Meena said that by the time she understood things, the beggar had died. But she sponsored his granddaughter to a boarding school as a mark of respect to him.
In the story, the author wanted to show that it’s never too late for a change. No matter how one is, onecan always strive to be a better version of themselves. Through the character Meena, the author wanted to portray that help and inspiration can be found even in the littlest of things. One needs to be sensitive around oneself. Changing oneself for the better doesn’t mean growing weak but it means that you are ready to embrace yourself.