Please be charitable enough…

…to spare us your ‘charity’!

Ajaz A Baba
Srinagar, Publish Date: Feb 24 2018 11:40PM | Updated Date: Feb 24 2018 11:40PM

I am associated with this institution for destitute people which of course depends upon people’s charity and I am grateful to all those who contribute in any measure for this institution. But there are some ‘charities’ which, to put it mildly, do not sit well in my mind. Perhaps it will be better if I quote examples. Like there was this man who came some days back with pots and pots of cooked food. “Actually we were celebrating my promotion,” this gentleman said with a smile, “You must have heard of it”. I informed the gentleman that I hadn’t actually. It turned out that the gentleman in question was a big shot and had been promoted to being an even bigger shot so he was understandably miffed by my ignorance. I made up for it by making appropriate apologetic and congratulatory noises. That must have mollified the gentleman concerned because his good humour was immediately restored and he outlined how powerful a man he was and yet how charitable a person he was, in elaborate detail. “I had organized Wazwaan (traditional feast) at my place,” he proceeded to explain, “but many invitees never turned up because of course my promotion caused a lot of heartburn. I waited for a week keeping the invitation open and when nobody turned up I thought why not give it to your institution. So here it is!”

“A week! I hope the food is not spoiled?” I expressed my reservations and proceeded to lift the lids of a couple of pots. My apprehensions proved to be right as the odours proclaimed the Wazwaan to be past expiry date. I said as much whereupon the gentleman bristled with indignation, 

“Why as if it is for a bridegroom’s party!” 

“The inmates, sir, fortunately or unfortunately happen to be human beings and there is every chance that this stuff might make them sick.” I asserted. 

“You cannot refuse charity! I am giving this in God’s name and who are you to put a spanner in the works!” the gentleman exploded. 

I stood my point. After pacing the room and uttering exclamations and imprecations and threats regarding the license etc. of our organization the gentleman called Somebody on phone. Somebody in turn must have made calls which ultimately culminated in the Secretary of our organization calling me and issuing foul-tempered instructions to accept the offering with good grace. I was left with no alternative but to accept the ‘charity’.

There was another gentleman who showed so much interest in the working of our charitable organization that I couldn’t but be impressed. With frequent pursing of his lips and a lot of head shaking he pointed out many areas which required improvement. I agreed wholeheartedly and hinted that it would require lots of money. “People should come forward and donate generously for such causes. Charity affords such a deep satisfaction and of course there are huge rewards too!” he said and handed over fifty grand in cash to me. I thanked him and was about to write a receipt when he said, “Write the receipt for 5 lac rupees please.”

“But how is that possible?!” I said.

“It’s Ok if give me a signed receipt for 50,000 only but I want a dummy receipt for 5 lacs. You see that will save me a couple of lacs in tax,” he said with a wink.

“I can’t do that sir!” I expressed my regrets.

He took out his phone and called Somebody and after discussing the matter with him and complaining against me for obstructing charity in God’s name coldly asked me for a receipt for the donated sum further informing me that “your president will send the other receipt to my home”. It didn’t take me long to understand the real meaning of ‘huge rewards’ for charity in this particular case.

Another gentleman came along with a camera crew. He insisted on posing for a picture with the most ragged of our inmates preferably with running snot, making sure that the picture was clicked while he was handing over something to them. One of the cameramen later told me that this gentleman intended to launch himself as a politician and was in the process of creating a portfolio. And yet there are some who prefer to remain discreet about their charitable acts, or at least that’s what I thought when yet another gentleman handed over a boxful of clothes to our watchman without revealing his identity. I opened the box and took out an article of clothing. It looked like a shirt but was actually more holes than shirt. The next article turned out to be the archaeological remains of a jacket. Next to come out was something that we puzzled over for half an hour debating whether it was the remnant of some sort of trousers or the sleeves of a coat with rest of the coat in absentia. Other stuff turned out to be ghosts of garments which must have been in existence at some point in time. For a long time I puzzled over what to do with this anonymous munificence, finally I entered the ‘charity’ as ‘floor scrubbers’ in the donation register.

As I said before ‘charities’ like this rankle in my mind so I decided to inform all such charitably disposed gentlemen to excuse our organization in future.  Since charity is usually given in the name of God Almighty I thought it would be better to take Him too on board regarding the matter. I talked to the editor of this newspaper and he agreed to carry this message, of course in a spirit of charity. On my enquiring whether my message will also reach God Almighty in the heavens above he assured me that the Lord regularly reads this newspaper. Now of course I have only his word for it but as they say the boss is always right and that by extrapolation probably applies to editors too. So I am hoping the message gets across to all, including of course the God Almighty.

(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at snp_ajazbaba@yahoo.com)  

 

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