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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

It should be mentioned that several small boys began to participate with us in playing the various games. All of them came to the age in which small boys were permitted to leave the house in order to play outside the house. Certainly, this was the general rule of life in the square of the quarter. Some boys withdrew from our group because they have reached the age in which they were no more considered as small boys and thus should he treated accordingly.

The grown up boys who would no more be seen in the square of the quarter, were considered as reaching the proper age in which they joined their fathers' shops and workshops so as to work as apprentices. They should begin their learning and training in the craft or the trade of the father. Of course there were exceptions to this general principle.

It should be mentioned that every boy of our group hoped always to reach this age in which he could be starting his life of apprenticeship. I myself did not at all wish to reach that age in which I will leave playing in the square of the quarter. I did not like to be an apprentice. I would rather have preferred to go to the local school of the mosque in which children were taught the basic principles of reading, writing and calculation in addition to the learning of our Holy Book, the Quran.

It should be mentioned also that it was the first year in our quarter for the establishment of the first modern primary school to which I was planning to go when circumstances would permit that.

In spite of all of these complications and developments in the quarter and in the community at large, I continued to be occupied, mentally speaking, by the problem of the small beggar. Frequently, and between now and then, I went the nearest to the place of the small beggar and I looked at him as well as on his wooden bowl in which he was supposed to receive the offers of the passers-by.

Obviously, and as expected, I could see nothing. I found the wooden bowl empty. There was in it not a single piece of money. All the time I wished to find some offers of money in the bowl. But unfortunately, the bowl was empty all the time. At the same time the small boy, the beggar, did not show the slightest sign that he was either seeing us or hearing what we were saying. He looked more or less like a small motionless statue.

With the passing of days and months, the inhabitants of the quarter, especially the elders, were considering this small beggar as only a small statue that was decorating the corner in which it was standing rather than as a living human being.

I myself did not share the opinion of the elders, that the beggar was a statue. I was still insisting that the beggar was a living human being like all of us, although, I thought, he could be blind, deaf and dump.

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Anyhow, this observation of mine was only a theory, a supposition, an attempt to explain the confused and the puzzling situation. Otherwise, there was no reason to consider this beggar as only a statue. I was expecting that one day a miracle would be realized and this motionless, but not lifeless, beggar, thought to be a statue, would talk and try to communicate with us, the small boys and even with elders.

I thought that this day, in which the beggar would talk, was not very far. I expected that in few days time a miracle would take place and it would be very easy for the small boys to identify the personality of the small beggar. All the inhabitants of the quarter without any exception would certainly be astonished to discover that the small beggar was really a living human being.

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The Story of a Beggar

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