It was a meritorious day. The long slanting rays of the sun with its brilliant hues fell like rain through the cluster of branches of the cool tree tops.
The tranquility of the whole surrounding puzzled every animal except the white crane, who was ready to observe sil at any time. The sil observers walked quietly on the road as floating clouds. It was the Vesak full moon poya day.
I too was at home listening to the sacred preaching over the radio. Then my mother decided to worship the sacred Kirivehera in Kataragama.
So, in the evening we left home. The dusk crept in slowly when we reached the sacred city of Kataragama, where the pagoda of Kirivehera is located. My sister and father then suggested to visit issamaharamaya, another sacred temple in the country. There were thousands of pilgrims who visited these two sacred lands.
The moon had appeared in the sky like a milky pot of curd. There far out appeared a very large pagoda of milky white. After parking our vehicle we walked for some distance. Then we left our sandals aside and entered the temple. It was crowded with a large number of people. I bowed there for a while.
Suddenly, my eyes caught the sight of a small child. I looked at him thrice, but nobody cared to notice him. So, I drew the attention of my sister.
“Madam….sir…., give me some money. Doesn’t anybody feel sorry for this unfortunate child? Have pity on me, have sympathy on me. You may gain so much merit by giving me some money.”
The little boy yelled at the pilgrims who went passing him. He was about six years in age and was seated on a heap of block stones. A dog was lying behind him as he had realized the child’s sorrow. The child spoke with a weeping tone. In such a crowded place he was left alone at all.
“How can he be there all alone? He must have been brought here by somebody else,” my mother said.
We trod all around the temple and worshipped for a long time. But I could not concentrate my mind on worshiping as I remembered the begging child from time to time. I was puzzled with hundreds of questions which arose in me. We sat on the concrete floor. I could then recite only the five stanzas. That was all. Nor further I could worship as I heard the voice of the boy over and over again at the door step of the temple. I was sunken fully with emotions. As we got ready back, I heard the still lamenting voice begging for money.
“Sir, madam…. Even ten rupees, even five rupees.” Again and again he spoke in his grief-stricken voice.”
“Please put even one rupee for me. Pl-e-a-s-e…”
At the same time he shook his tin plenty with money. “TUK>>>TUKK”
He was even unable to pronounce a few words. He was too small. This time I was really shocked.
“Why does he need money? Nor shelter, nor food, neither even a mother? How can it be? Nobody can be born to this world without a mother.”
As my father gave me a 20 rupee note, I kept it on his palm. The most wonderful thing is the way how he paid gratitude to me. With an innocent smile he said, “May you gain so much merits madam.”
The next question that haunted in mind was how can such a little boy know to give merits to the others by getting others’ money? However, I was satisfied as I could console him a little. But he was not really content with that money.
Then people gathered around him. Nor one rupee he could gain. But twenty, twenty, fifty, twenty…. fifty……. They must have felt pity on him. Village men and women came near him and wondered while watching the boy as they were watching a movie. But nobody hesitated to seek for his parents. Everybody left him alone at that lonely darkness where only the moon took notice of him. In a trice my father showed us a lady, fair in appearance, but too old in a dignified distance to the child. So we all looked at her. I had no idea at all. “How can I believe that a child’s mother uses her own child to earn money?”
“You know the world is becoming worse day by day. Realize it. You know she’s the child’s mother. Not anybody else.”My father replied.
I felt sympathy towards the boy and pondered how lucky I was.