It was difficult to miss them. As months passed, they resembled the life-sized statues that dotted the perimeter of the church. They were there for only one reason: survival.
When I was a boy, about twelve years old if I remembered correctly, I used to give some change to any beggar I saw. I pitied them so much that I felt it was my obligation as a Christian to share with them what I have.
That was my practice until an incident left me confused for some time.
The blind beggar who I believed all throughout to be sightless, counted his money.
It was impossible, I thought, unless he was not really blind. I felt betrayed at that moment.
However, I did not confront him, giving him the benefit of my doubt. I wanted to make sure first before I accused him of fraud.
The next day I had with me a fifty peso bill. It was my allowance for the whole week. I was willing to give it to the beggar to test the man’s eye condition.
“Here’s for you,” I said calmly. “I hope you buy more food.”
He took the money from the tin can and caressed it all over with his right hand in his left palm.
“You are too kind, my child. Not too many people will give me fifty pesos.”
“How do you know it is fifty and not a twenty? Maybe that’s just play money.” I was angry because I believed he could see the bill through his black glasses.
“I was not born blind,” he explained. “Once upon a time, I was not a beggar.”
“So, how could you tell the difference?”
“The coins are easy. They are of different sizes. The bills are tricky though. But I memorized the markings of each bill to know which is which.”
I was not entirely convinced with his reasoning. I suspected he was lying.
“How could you count your money? You are blind, or are you nor?”
“Have faith, my child,” he smiled. “Even a blind man could do addition.”