I hurried round his head
As though he’s already dead.
I steered clear of his feet,
The filthiest of the street.
Should I help myself to think
Of reasons for his bilious stink?
Should I care to wonder why
The slob gave not real work a try?
Should I in my pocket delve
And exchange penance for myself?
Should I anticipate his thanks
As the penny dropped and clanked?
In a huff I left the tramp
To the mercy of food stamp,
And swore not to look again
At that eyesore by the drain.
There are two ways to interpret this poem. At first glance, I hope the speaker’s indifference did make your blood boil – a sign of seemly sensibility, even to one as autistic as me. But then, I hope I don’t get guillotined by saying that such a depressing scene and internal rhetoric might not be unfamiliar amongst us who stream down the streets of China on a daily basis.
Apart from the trafficked scamps who are brutally mutilated to maximise their slavemasters’ profits, another perverse phenomenon on our pavements is the growing sector of professional panhandling. With a little market analysis prepped in advance, these masters of the craft can quite restfully make at least 400 RMB a day, which is more than twice the country’s average wage of about 185 RMB – mind I said, the average wage, not the minimum wage. The social prescription of the glorious poor and guilty rich, though long expired, has reincarnated in the 21st century through the beggars’ success stories, involving luxurious bling, fine dinners and homeownership.
Of course, with the Gini Index still hovering over 0.46, the genuine needy are far from shortage. However, since they share the same streets with their professional confrères, and possibly often outcompeted by the latter, I’m sure you can see how it traps an average charitable soul (earning a finite average wage, mind you) in sheer dilemma.
p.s. Sharing this with dVerse for the week’s Open Link Night.
Photo Courtesy: ibtimes.com & Baidu