Down and out


You spoke to me? Me? Ok, give me a moment.


Home? Huh? What’s that?

Where do I sleep?

When it isn’t raining, the trees there form a perfect canopy…

When it rains, you ask?

The priest at the temple allows me to shelter under the old stone ceiling of the mantap, the porch.

A mattress? Ha! Ha! I don’t need one. I know how to bring up the warmth of my body by controlling my mind.

No, I have not chewed on any special root, leaf or fruit.

Yes, I am high.

On life.

I don’t need to explain how.

You wouldn’t understand.


The forest behind, she gives me all I want.

No, I’m not hungry.

I do not want your bread.

I certainly do not want to share your food.

You need it more than I.

It is all the same to me. I cannot discern any taste. It is only food, something to keep me going.

And I certainly do not need any.

Why do you insist?

What is this need you have to feed me?

Does it make you feel good about yourself?


Then I don’t  know why  people like you throw unwanted scraps at me.


What are you doing?

Please don’t leave food by the side of the tree.

Never mind, I shall give it away to the dogs by the temple.

It is all the same.

The dog and I, what is the difference?

Why do you look angry?

I did not ask you to stop by.

Please leave.

I do not want your attention.

Leave me alone.

Get back into your metal cage and go away.


What makes you think you can help me?

What makes you think I even need help?

I see.

I look like a destitute person.

You, with all your need to reach out, help, and console people seem more destitute than I.

I am content with my lot.

I am poor. I know that.

I choose to be poor.

My poverty is my wealth.

I do not sit at the fringes of your life, begging for money, food or even attention.

Ever seen yourself?

Seeking approval.

Feasting on scraps of good opinion.

I may look like a beggar, but I am not one.


I must have had one in another life.

I don’t remember.

I choose not to remember.

Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, who are they?

It isn’t relevant.

No, I never married. I did not need to.

Marriage is for people like you.

I am wedded to my death.

The moment I was born I was betrothed to her.

She is alluring and constant in her devotion to me. She walks steadily with me, her step never faltering, her sight never wavering.


She is my beloved.

Every moment I have, left in my life, is hers to claim.

I have given up everything in her pursuit.

I wait for her embrace, her everlasting embrace when I can close my eyes and never wake up.

Never wake up.

My breath, my final gift to her.

What’s that you say?

Have a little faith in God?

What do you know of the faith of people like me?

All we have is faith.

We have little else.

What are you saying?

Visit a shrine?

You  go in search of God here, there, and everywhere.

You fail to see Him in yourself.

I don’t need to go to a shrine to find Him.

I am connected completely with Him within.

He looks out for me, watches over me.

Is me.

And my beloved waits for me, at the end of this path.


Am I putting my life in danger?

What is danger?

And what is this life?


You ask me why I have been answering your questions if I did not want anything?

You see, you had the look of an impoverished beggar on your face, so eager to please, so eager to help.

Please! Please! Please!

That’s right, please go away.

Next time, be more careful.

Don’t court danger, ever again.

The next stray dog you stop to pat, to feed your scraps to, by the side of the road, might not just growl.

Unlike me.


39 thoughts on “Down and out

      1. That’s what good writing accomplishes, Sailaja. You elucidate with your clarity and I enjoy it.

          1. Trying to think of something incredibly clever and illuminating to say, failing miserably!
            You said it, in the most lucid way- the perfect phrase – transcendent synergy! 😀

  1. The synergies of a if on his way to self realization! … echoes the post beautifully touching multiple curves of life n true knowledge.The behavior n conversations .. amplifying the journey of any mystic, saint .. So nicely picked up sailaja!

    1. Thank you Kamakhya😁I’m so gratified that you find my expression of the world of a mendicant and his journey accurate. Absolutely thrilled that my writing has resonated with you . Have a great day ahead!

    1. Thank you! I promise a book will emerge after the winter break. You know why…hardly have any time on my hands right now…just enough for short fiction. 😙😙😙😙😙

    1. Thank you Zelda. Sometimes the good intentions of wanting to help become rather intrusive. We choose to live our life a certain way but it becomes a cause for concern for people who do not understand that it is choice. We actually want to be the way we are. Thank you for stopping by and sharing what you think.Have a great day ahead. 😙😙😙😙😙

  2. Very well written and says SO much, well done!
    I have met both types of people in life and prefer the company of the renounced – genuine, honest, unassuming.

    1. Thank you Kate, for reading and appreciating my work.😚 I mirror your observation…if one can give it all up…I can imagine the peace.
      Trying a little in my own way… would love being part of the world as an observer and not being caught in its current… A little detachment is all I need to float away without a care…
      Wistful thinking maybe!😀

  3. Wonderfully effective piece! I particularly like the way the minimalism of the form matches the mendicant’s choice to give away, to do without.

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