“Give a beggar a dime and he’ll bless you. Give him a dollar and he’ll curse you for withholding the rest of your fortune. Poverty is a bag with a hole at the bottom.” A Polish writer wrote.
Kabuot comes from the slums of Ubumwe. He is in his 30’s and has lived almost all of his life as a beggar. His now deceased parents brought him and his sister up in Ubumwe slums. They worked as labourers and barely managed to put food on the table. Living has been tough all along from his childhood.
Kabout’s parents died the same year from an incurable disease. This prompted Kabout and his sister to seek refuge elsewhere.
They tried to live with their relatives but none of them was willing to accommodate them. They were all paupers as well and adding a plate on top of the usual, proved strenuous on them.
Fortunately or unfortunately though, at the age of thirteen and having nowhere else to go, Kabuot’s sister got married.
In the long run, Kabuot had no other alternative but to move to the city in search of greener pastures. He started eating food from dustbins with other street ‘families’. It was a new found family of generous beggars.
Unlike his unwelcoming poor relatives, the new family was willing to accommodate him and share whatever little they got. Kabuot and the new found friends would go around the city begging for food or feeding on left overs in garbage cans.
It did not take long before Kabuot got acquainted to the street life. Life was rough and hard. “Life’s graph was drawn from the beginning of time by our maker,” Kabuot used to console himself and accept his fate as one which was predetermined.
The same sequence of events replicated daily. He would wake up early in the morning from a small structure made of different patches of nylon papers with variety of colours.
He’s then pick up his small plastic container with some glue inside, sniff the stuff to make him feel elevated before he starts the day, say a word of prayer to his maker. He would ask Him to provide enough food for him and for the sickly who are left behind in the slums.
“Religion is the opium of the poor,” Karl Marx once said. They were all one another’s keeper. Should they fail to come back ‘home’ they would sleep on the cold verandas in the city.
The family of beggars would then start roaming the streets begging and borrowing. They would meander here and there and go as far as their legs would carry them.
Sometimes and very rarely, Kabuot and his bunch would get fresh food from pedestrians. Most of them would be very hostile. “God, what did we do to deserve all this?” Kabuot would ask himself.
Not that he needed an answer from God but he failed to comprehend why his fellow human beings could not understand they are human as well and they are what they are not by choice.
The beggars had mastered the streets so well. They knew what to expect from which dustbin and in which corner of the street. They were well organized and went in groups.
If one of them would be aggravated by an outsider, they would re-align as a group to fight their common enemy. City guards and police always clashed with them.
Sometimes, the street boys would be beaten so badly by the guards and the police. In such cases, they would regroup and take the injured to the hospital.
Kabuot is now an adult. He is unschooled not by choice and still lives in the slums depending on charity and handouts from whatever quarters. He recognizes that he should work to survive but getting a job is difficult for him.
Whenever he goes to the potential would be employers, he is met with ‘no job’ notices at the gates. The city guards don’t even give them a chance to come near the gates.
This is because they are easily spotted by the way they cloth. Rainbow coloured clothes with patches all over and a plastic container with some glue in it.
It is said that the government has got plans to make their living better but it always goes as far as that. Making plans but not planning to implement them. Various diseases and sicknesses have eliminated Kabuot’s friends.
He is now living just for the sake of it. Who cares anyway? Death doesn’t scare him. Killing doesn’t either. He has witnessed many passing away on his hands. He can do anything for his survival.
It’s no wonder that riots in the streets makes his heart throb in joy. This is the only time the street family gets the golden chance to break hotels and restaurants and eat whatever their hands can get and fill their hungry stomachs.
Kabuot like anyone else would want to lead a decent life but fate just won’t let him. It’s upon the society at large to look into the fate of the poor for the good of all.
He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.