The alms-seeker was swimming in enthusiasm that morning. He heard that the Poet was in town and would attend a function next day in the town hall. So what? The Poet wrote a poem on an alms-seeker, which brought him international acclamation and a coveted award. It had become talk of the town and the people were proud of the Poet, who brought fame to the little town. And that the poem on the alms-seeker made a lot of emotional impact on the audience, during the award-giving ceremony.
The alms-seeker's imagination went a step further. The people present in the town hall would get more emotionalized especially when the Poet was a local citizen. And they would become generous. His income the next day would be nearer to a windfall. So he decided to make a small change to his routine, by shifting the venue of alms-seeking in front of the town hall on that day.
He started, as usual, to the City Square. He looked at the big billboard announcing the Poet's achievement and the fame he brought to the little town. Facilitation was by the Mayor and the function would be attended by the big-shots of the little town. The Poet would read out his great creation that fetched fame for him, his little town, and his country. The function would be between 4 and 6 in the evening and the inaugural speech would be given by one of the cabinet ministers.
The alms-seeker's mind was brimming up with joy! All high society people. Not nickels, but currency notes would be thrown at him along with merciful looks. However, he had a fear somewhere in the corner of his mind - if more than one of his kind would join him, the income would be divided into two or more. And to that extent his earning would go down. "No. Never. This is my invention, my idea. And I will alone cash in on my idea!", he thought and consoled himself.
That night he had sweet dreams! A poor man's ambitious night. The rough floor of that dirty shanty at the outskirts of the little town was bed of roses for him.
* * *
There was a long chain cars parking outside the town hall. The alms-seeker was punctual. And he surveyed the area with his gleaming eyes and satisfied about the turnout. Outside the only gate of the town hall he could find a little space to squat by the side of a Cadillac. He lifted his head stared at the clock tower. It was just five minutes past four. There was enough time to have a nap. So he did, thinking about the emotional crop that he would reap soon.
* * *
The people of the little town were very punctual and disciplined. The hall was almost full. Yet they were impatient to hear their now-most-favorite Poet. After every speech, people clapped their hands as if they were doing a ritual. The turn of the Poet, the great son of the soil, came now. He spoke - slowly, clearly and in a tone of a hero. Of course, he was the hero, after all. He was more proud of his achievement; it is natural. And finally he started reading out his masterpiece, the great poem that earned him and his little town and his country laurels, name and fame.
Pin-drop silence remained in the beginning. As the poem became too emotional, people were busy collecting handkerchiefs from their pockets and vanity bags. Literally the hall was flooded with tears. So touchy was the poem on an alms-seeker. Audience wept. The accentuation and its rhythm was so pulsating that the audience was sitting spellbound. How on earth could he find such words? And how could he compose the words in such a beautiful way? The minds of the people were filled with the poor alms-seeker's picture.
The function was over with a vote of thanks by the Mayor, after a citation and presentation of gifts to the Poet.
* * *
The alms-seeker slept a little more in that sitting posture, his head slanting toward the wall. He did not know what was happening around him. He was floating in his dreamland, currency notes flying around him. The chiming of bell from the church across the road woke him up. He rubbed his eyes with his dirty palms. The hall was empty. The clock showed 7. The piece of cloth fanned out before him was empty. He looked at the billboard. It was there cracking a cruel joke at him. "After all I am a beggar! The City Square would have earned me today's bread, at least!"
He stood up. Then bent to collect the cloth. And stood there for a while, as if he had lost something. Then walked westward, toward his shanty.