From what I had learnt in my English language class during school days, I was pretty certain of the fact that "beggars cannot be choosers". For if beggars could choose, this idiom would lose its essence and we would have to come up with a modified version for this. But one fine day, this certainty became quite an uncertainty.
I was at the Naheed Super Market for some household errands. I happened to have very little cash with me, just enough for the stuff that I had to buy. When I was done, I was left with just a few coins totaling about five or seven rupees only. I usually keep these coins in a special coin pouch and I use them for handing over the exact change when I have to ask my driver to buy "roti" (bread) for him from "tandoor" (public oven), as he is usually not too fond of returning the change!
Anyways, as I came out of Naheed Supermarket, I started walking towards my car. That walk is usually not an unaccompanied walk, for there are quite a few people doing their day jobs right outside the supermarket known as begging. So, I was also followed by an elderly man.
Since this man was quite aged, and I had quite a few bags in my hand, I did not feel nice not responding to his request for help. As I sat down in the car, I got this feeling from within to give him atleast something. So I took out my coin pouch and handed over all of the coins that I had. However, to my sheer amazement, he saw the coins and started saying things to me in disgust. I was a bit taken aback. I felt really bad and I tried telling him nicely that this is all I have at the moment. He did not stop and kept cursing me. I was totally put off by his attitude and still keeping my cool, I told him to return the coins if he didn't find them useful enough. And at the very instant, he threw the coins inside the car through the open window and walked away continuously mumbling! I was extremely shocked!
Those coins were extremely useful to me, since I believe every penny counts. As they say in Urdu "qatra qatra banay samandar", which means "droplets combine together to form ocean". But that beggar considered it an insult to take those coins from me and made a massive display of his disgust, as if I had committed a sin. I felt, if he had been in extreme need, even a single coin would have been a blessing for him. But he was there for a huge business deal or to achieve some major milestone for his job and not just collect a few worthless coins!
This incident changed my entire perspective of the beggars in our sacred homeland. They have opted to go for the easier way to earn a living, and when money is not earned through extreme hard work, it loses its worth. Although I feel it is not easy to stand in the sun all day and beg. But anyways, I feel obliged to rephrase this idiom. The local version would rather be: "Desi beggars have the freedom to choose"! But I suppose the non desi version of this idiom still remains unchanged. Or does that need to change too?