Friday, September 18, 2009

There is a man sleeping outside my door…

One would think this might be a post about being pursued by a lover who is not giving up…. Sorry to disappoint you but it is not. And one thing I would not want to be is pursued by a man well maybe a lady… but have you ever found a line in any book which would say “there is a woman sleeping outside my door”?
Neither have I? Isn’t that amazing?
Well this is a love story in a way. But sadly between a man and his love for alcohol. If it was a real life love story between two people it could have been presented as one of the greatest love stories of all time Because he did give up everything for his love.
Let us refer to him as Pala. A man I have seen around for over 30 years. He is a vagabond. Who main purpose in life is to drink or should I say drunk? After all drink is just the means to an end. Well he used to do odd jobs for all the houses around the place and get money to pursue his pleasures. He did not have a place to stay and used to sleep in temples and whatever place he could find.
Well as time went by Pala had managed to get around my wife and now visits us virtually every day for a home cooked meal and some money. Sometimes he would sweep the garden and clean up stuff and do some work around the house. He used to come up with the most amazing excuses to try and squeeze a little more money out of my wife. He killed his mother at least thrice and also his grandparents at least twice a year.
Well anyway I have seen him transform himself from young strong drunkard to old and feeble drunkard. Hobbling along the road with his belongings in a “siri siri” bag. Sometimes lying on the road blissfully drunk his privates exposed and stray dogs licking his face. Something which I really find amazing is that my dogs just love him. We know when he is going to visit us. Because our dogs can sense that he is coming way before we do and get excited and start whining.
The priest in the temple he was living in threw him out when he realized that he had outlived his usefulness. In fact a couple of months back he came and told that he was moving into some kind of shelter. But within days he was out. Maybe he liked the freedom of staying in an unconfined space. Unfettered by rules and regulations we have to live by. Who knows? Who cares?
Well actually that is my point.
Who cares?
About a lonely homeless man who has no money. He is of no value to anyone. No one is going to look after him hoping that they would inherit his wealth after his death. He is sleeping outside my door on the porch because he was not feeling well enough to walk back to the new temple he is staying in.
One of these days his abused body will not be able to support him? Then what is going to happen? What is really sad is that as years go by there will be more and more people like him. Sri Lanka too has an aging population and we don’t have a social net wide enough to ensure all of them are looked after.
But then who cares?

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