Thursday, November 6, 2008


I was coming out of the collectorate and as I reached the small side gate, I noticed an old, famished couple sitting in the shadow of a huge rock and doing something. When I reached nearer, I saw the man making three small packets. I became curious. I stopped and asked the man what he was doing. He said he was sorting out different denominations of coins in different packets.

I looked at him. He was quite old. I looked at the woman. She looked very, very old. I asked the man about their ages. He said he was 66 and his wife was 55. She looked at least 80 years old to me. Soon we started talking. His name was Thomas and his wife was Mary. He said he was from a place called Panruti in Tamilnadu. He came to Kerala to beg. He and his wife will beg for about 20 days and when they make about Rs. 1000 they will go back to their small dwelling in Panruti. Once a week the Church Priest will give him Rs.20 and the village elder will also give little money. They will stay in their house till the money is over and then they will go to some other place to beg.

When Thomas and Mary were young, they worked in the paddy fields. They were stout and strong and earned good money. They were a very happy couple. Now they are old, worn out with hard labor and sick. They cannot do any strenuous work. They have two children—one boy and a girl. Both the children are married and they have two children each. They are earning very little and therefore, they cannot support the old parents. So Thomas and Mary are going from place to place to beg and support themselves. Many people chase them away and begging to earn a livelihood is quite tough. Sun or rain, they have to move themselves despite their poor health.

I gave them a crisp Rs. 20 note. Their eyes widened with delight. Thomas said he and his wife were very hungry and they will go and eat something immediately with the money. They blessed me several times.

As Thomas and Mary walked out of my sight, several thoughts popped up in my mind. I will list down those thoughts in my next post.

In the meanwhile I would like to know your observations.


JM said...

As I was reading Thomas and Mary's story I was thinking how sad it is, but when I came to the starving situation I have no words to describe how I felt. Working all their lives to reach this stage of hunger, it simply isn't fair! The days they spend to get 1000 rupees, which is nothing! That's so depressing specially when you think of how many Thomas and Marys you can count around the globe...
Very moving post, I think everybody should read it. Great work, Joseph!

FCB said...

Hi Joseph,
Yours is a very touching story, and I'm glad you were there to offer respect and help to them. I have to agree they look far older than their years. I suspect the difficult work for many years has caused much premature aging. He is a handsome man, and I suppose if he were well fed, had some weight on him, wearing a suit and tie, that he would command the respect of all. It is sad to see him reduced to begging, but what choice does he have?
Thanks for sharing this heart wrenching story, it motivates me to continue supporting those that are offering help.
God bless,

Mel said...

Thank you for sharing this story, Joseph. I'm glad God has given you eyes to see, a heart of compassion, and the motivation to share these stories with the rest of us. May our perspectives be appropriately impacted.

Many blessings to you,


Leo said...

I read your post on my day of fasting. I could end my hunger. Thomas & Mary could not. They were in my thoughts all day. Thank-you for touching them -- and me.

skyjuice7 said...

Read this story after having my breakfast. If only I could share my meal with them. Thank you for sharing this story, Joseph. God bless.

shri ramesh sadasivam said...

Hello sir,

Thanks for posts like this because they make me humble.They live their life with minimum food clothing and shelter. In spite of having much more than them many of us are not satisfied.

How much would they have searched to find that shadow under the rock?

CyberTaskForce said...

Thomas had no one to care for him in his old age. That is truly sad. Wonder where his children and wife went? Well, what you sow, so shall you reap. Something to keep in mind always.

Maria said...

Yes, that's the sad thing: There are so many Thomas and Mariy around the globe, it's really depressing, and what can you DO about it?
Maybe protest, protest, protest. Somehow. The theme "hunger" has always made me helpless and sad!

kochuthresiamma p .j said...

we talk of india shining, we talk of progress, development. But Thomas and Mary are not in uur scheme of things. They are not in the govt's scheme of things too.

it's very rarely we come across even a blog on this sad face of India.

i am ashamed to admit that sitting on the 11th floor, hardly walking down the roads, i dont even think of them! as a working woman, i used to see them every day and used feel a pang which i took care of giving them something. yes. running away from our conscience.
But now---

your post was a rude shock.

Swarna said...

You spent some time with them listening to their story - you'll never run out of time for anything you consider important! God bless.