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The Story of a Beggar

Najati Al-Bukhari

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Perhaps, the family of the small beggar has totally abandoned him or most probably they lost him. Most of the mothers in our quarter consider the theory of the gypsy origin of the beggar as the most plausible and the most logical.

My mother, like all other mothers in the quarter, believed in the theory of the gypsy origin of the beggar. All mothers in the quarter spoke a lot of this beggar, and all of them agreed that the small beggar was of a gypsy origin and that he was totally abandoned by his family. Most of the mothers in the quarter believed, like my mother, that this small beggar was of a gypsy origin. Of course, there were other interpretations concerning the origin of the beggar but still the theory of the gypsy origin was the most plausible.

"Listen to me my dear son, Amin. This enigmatic small boy, the beggar of the square of the quarter, is certainly of a gypsy family. I remember, since I was a small child like you are now, that our quarter was visited regularly by several gypsy families. After their departure from the quarter, it was always the tradition in our quarter to say and to claim that the gypsies had the habit of kidnapping children of the quarter specially the small boys."

"This story, which was more a rumor, not real, was repeated every year when the gypsies finished their annual visit to our quarter. It never happened that an event has taken place in which a gypsy boy stayed with us in the quarter thus giving the impression that he was kidnapped by us form the gypsy families."

"Yet a more logical story or theory is the claim that the little boy, the beggar, was not lost or abandoned by his family and by his community. But rather he was intentionally left in our quarter so that he can gain some money by begging from the inhabitants of our quarter. Therefore, according to this interpretation, the small beggar is neither lost nor abandoned but rather he is amongst us as a bread winner for his poor family. I heard that a lot of small children of your age in some other communities work as bread winners for their poor families."

"Listen to me my son Amin. I find this last interpretation to be the most plausible and logical. The small boy is a beggar who wants to help his poor family for living and surviving. This is very normal. He works for the survival of his own family and I wish that our boys do the same thing instead of wasting their time playing for the whole day."

"Amin let me tell you that this is the tradition among the gypsies everywhere in the world. Every member of the gypsy family should contribute his share in the effort to support his family to survive."

Said to me my mother one day in the early morning before my departure from the house to start playing in the square of the quarter with the other children who were not interested too much in the story of the small strange beggar.

"Excuse me, my dear mother. I would like to differ and to tell you that I do not totally agree with you. The small boy, the beggar, is more than a gypsy. He is more than that, more than just a simple child of a roaming gypsy family. Excuse me my dear mother to differ from you in this story of the small beggar. This strange boy might have come from a very far country, from a country north of our quarter where the complexion of the people is normally fair or rather and even more precisely white."

I answered my mother in a very polite manner that was ready to give me a piece of brown bread in addition to some pieces of white salty cheese and some green olives for my breakfast. Of course, I was offered the traditional cup of tea which was the most important component of our breakfast in those ancient times.

"Amin, my dear son; Try your best to avoid this small boy whom you describe as a beggar. We don't know exactly what he is in reality. He is like a mystery and even a puzzle. It seems to me that he is not only a gypsy but also a magician, a wizard, a sorcerer, an enchanter and consequently he could be a dangerous human being. Therefore, you should be very careful and prudent in your dealings with this strange boy."

"O!! My son, you should always keep yourself far away from this boy. The other boys of the quarter should also do the same thing like you. They should keep away from the strange and mysterious beggar."

Said my mother to me in a very serious, pensive and thoughtful tone and in looking at me with frowns and grimaces on her pale face to express her disapproval to my intention to establish close contacts with the small beggar who became the focus of all the eyes of the elders of the community.

"My dear mother; don't be so much worried and even agonized. May be you are exaggerating in your thinking and in your interpretation of events which are really difficult to understand. You should know my mother that being a gypsy does not mean that he is mischievous and wicked and therefore he is forever with bad and satanic intentions and thoughts. You should know that the only thing he asks from the passers-by is to give him a little bit of money and nothing else."

"This is why he carries all the time his small wooden bowl in his hand waiting for someone to come near to him and give him the coin of money demanded. This is all what he does throughout the day. This little beggar asks only the aid of others so that he will be able to help his family later on. Actually, we do not know so far where his family is. You should know, mother, that this small boy, the beggar, does not utter a single word all through the day. He keeps all the time silent and he only looks at the passers-by as if he conveys to them a message, a secret message."

"I assure you, mother, that this beggar never left his place in order to come and play with us. I am sure that he has never played like us, the small boys, in his whole life. He never watched us while we played in the square. I don't think that he had ever been tempted to leave his hidden place, his corner, and come to join us in our games and in our various amusement activities. In fact, this is a strange behavior on the part of the small beggar. Isn't it so, Mother?"

I said to my mother while I was trying to finish my cup of tea which my mother prepared for me. Of course, I asked my mother for another cup of tea. I liked the way my mother prepared the tea.

My mother asked me to take my time in taking my breakfast. She asked me; in fact she encouraged me, to finish taking all the green olives as well as all the white salty cheese and the brown bread. So I did.

"There are a lot of rumors circulating in the meetings of women of the quarter regarding this beggar. I assure you, my dear son, that there is not a single woman who spoke in a positive way about this mysterious small boy, the beggar of the quarter. All the women of the quarter emphasize the fact that this small boy belongs to a family of magicians," said my mother in a very emphatic way in trying to convince me about the bad nature of the small beggar of our quarter.

"I am very sorry mother that I do not share with you all of these bad, pernicious and strange ideas about the small beggar. I assure you, my dear mother, that this beggar is of a good and virtuous nature and that he never harmed anyone. I see him daily and without exception squatting or standing in his hidden corner in the square of the quarter. I assure you again that I never saw him behaving in a bad or villainous way. On the contrary, I think that he is a good boy, a very good boy and nothing else," said I to my mother who behaved as if she was not listening to me at all. She did her best to make me stop talking.

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The Story of a Beggar

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