‘Black’ man by the roadside

While in an auto-rickshaw from Haridwar to Rishikesh, we passed someone on the side of the road. I only saw him for a few seconds, and am not sure of the details, but still can’t forget him. This guy was Indian in features, but every part of his body, hair, clothes was jet black with dirt. In the  space immediately around him were spread equally black piles off stuff, which I was not sure were his possessions or rubbish. As I passed, he was using a stick to hungrily scoop what looked like pieces of corn in liquid out of a plastic bag and into his  mostly-toothless mouth. More than anyone else so far, this guy represented to me the horror of poverty. Except, I still have a lingering doubt (which I don’t have for any of the other beggars) about to what degree he had sort of chosen this extreme ascetic way of being. I am sure he was not black from shoveling coal, but can not be sure…

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