Drugs, begging and a dreadful realisation
The other day while going home from office, I was stuck at the traffic signal of Gulshan 1 for a few minutes. I wasn't looking outside; for my ears and mind were glued to the popular songs that Radio Foorti was playing that afternoon. Suddenly, a teenage boy of say about 18 or 19 years of age walked to my car window and started begging for a few takas. I looked at him and figured that he was showing me his twisted hand to earn my sympathy. The deformed hand shook my inner being…and I took my wallet from my handbag to pull out a Tk.10 note. In the process of doing that, another young man of his age came running towards my car, screaming, "Apa taka diyen na, heroin khaibo taka diya (“Apa, don't give him any money, he will buy heroin with it.") It was at that time when I took a keen look at the fellow and noticed his red eyes, his stained teeth and his almost black lips. I knew in an instant that he was one of those vagrant substance abusers who spend their days and nights on the streets to beg and to buy drugs with the money raised from begging.
The incident came as a shock to me, for I never realised before that a large portion of the money that we give out as alms to young beggars could be spent on narcotics. Appalling indeed! I have become very careful about giving out money to people since then. These days I choose to give money only to the ones who are physically unsound or old and cannot make a living by working. Maybe I am not giving away thousands of takas every month but whatever small amount of my hard-earned money that I give away as alms, I try to make sure that it goes to those who would buy some food with it or pay the rent of the shanty house that they live in.
I have seen young men lying on the streets and begging in one of the high-class residential areas of the city. I learnt later that some of them are children of respectable families, although their clothes and looks wouldn't tell you so. These young men are what we call, in this modern time, 'substance abusers.'
It's a pity that narcotics are driving millions of bright young people towards an abysmal pit of suffering, sorrow and sadness. That day's incident taught me that many of us, without knowing, are giving away money to people who are actually using it to buy something fatal as drugs.
By Wara Karim