Farewell to Alms

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A 70-year-old ‘beggar’ in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, turned out to have savings of Rs 13 lakh and about Rs 80,000 in cash, the result of 30 years of alms gathering. Early this month, he was seen in rags, seeking alms near Jamaat mosque in Kuttikkattoor. Mosque authorities gave him food and a place to sleep. The next day, Ghali said he wanted to visit Ernakulam. Locals collected about Rs 10,000 for his trip. But Ghali’s return the same day made them suspicious. They forcibly opened his smelly bundle and found the money. The police say he was taken into custody in 2004 and sent back with the advice to live with his estranged wife, a nurse in state government service, and son. At the time, he was found to have deposits of Rs 4.50 lakh, including Rs 1 lakh in Indira Vikas Patras. When police informed Ghali’s son, he reached Kuttikattoor and took him back to Tamil Nadu again. The son was introduced as a software engineer with an MNC in Chennai.