Bharat, the Rickshaw Puller - contd
by Nirmal Kishor Prasad
Back to page 1 of the story
His activities indicated that he was not in a hurry, rather very comfortably prepared to unveil his life story. It appeared to me as if I might be the first person who had shown such interest in him.
“I too belong to Bihar...Samastipur…” I said.
Hearing this, he became at ease and made up his mind to spare some time with me.
“Sirji, for the last 4 years I’m here in this profession, but my fate had forced me to take up varied challenges and overcome the real life tests, but I’ve never compromised with bad things of life despite of extreme adversities,” he said.
“Where are you staying? Who else are there in your family?” I shot a query just to incite his excitement.
“I’m staying alone here only in Sewanagar just near the over bridge connecting Sewanagar and Lodhi Colony. My parents, two younger brothers, wife, and our two children,(daughter and son) are staying in a village in Darbhanga district,” he summed up details of his family.
“Why did you leave your village?” I asked him out of curiosity.
“Sirji, just listen…I shall tell you everything…My Dadaji had a piece of agricultural land in the village. We had a joint family, happily living together along with uncles’ families. My two uncles were elder to my father. We’re all small in those days. We’re going to nearby school for study. The time spent happily. Dadaji became old and suffering from chronic Asthma. One day Dadaji passed away. Gradually, uncles had conflicts with father on land property. My father was a simple man, away from clever attitude of present time. With support from local touts, the uncles wanted to grab the property. My father didn’t protest being the youngest in the family. I wanted to raise voice on our right, but father said to keep mum. Father had always encouraged us to devote time in study and said proper education and good thoughts would only lessen our sorrows. We’re passing a phase of misery,” he said. While narrating his childhood, excitement was seen on his forehead.
I’d snooping of knowing more on this man.
After a small pause, he continued further, “I was eighteen years old then. I was very disturbed, could not decide what to do to overcome our poverty, help out my father, and two brothers. For several nights I couldn’t sleep well. One fine morning, I told my father that there is no job prospect in our village so I wish to leave the village and go out for earnings. I knew, it must be a painful moment for any father when he heard his elder son leaving him. With tears in eyes, realizing the situation he put a condition that after marriage you’re free to go anywhere.”
My excitement was picking up as if a movie promo was being played before me.
“Oh…then,” I said.
“My father had some proposal for my marriage which was executed soon. After marriage, I left for Chandigarh, worked there very hard as laborer in construction site, earning 90 rupees per day, in evening time doing the job of driving auto rickshaw. I was able to manage five thousand a month in those days, keeping a bare minimum amount for me, used to send all money to my father for spending on family. Gradually, my brothers had schooling. Time passed on. On every two months, I used to go to the village and see things moving normal. I’m great believer of God. I knew very well that true labour never goes futile. Smooth progress of family at village motivated me to do more work and support a good life to my family,” he just looked at the sky, probably acknowledging gratitude to Almighty for his blessings.
My cell phone started ringing. It was almost 9.45 PM. I picked the call. It was Anya, “Papa, where’re you? Our party is over…”,
“Okay, I’m just coming,” I said.
I had to take leave from this man. He also understood that I had a call from my family.
“Sirji, five minutes more from your precious time…,” he said.
“Yes, no issue, I’m too eager to hear your story,” I urged him to proceed.
“Sirji, one day, I came to know that our remuneration for labour has increased from 90 rupees to 100. I requested for additional 10 rupees, but it was denied to me by the supervisor. On that very moment, I refused to work further for the 10 rupees. Sirji, it was not the question of 10 rupees, but it was unjust, which I had always protested in my life. This might be my weakness but at the same time strengths too. I decided to leave that place. I’d always believed that without His wish and consent we couldn’t move a step further. By the way, I’d already worked for 9 years in Chandigarh.” He said with a sense of pride and dignity.
“What happened thereafter?” I was eager to reach at his present state.
“Some persons from my village were working at Gudgama. I came straight to Gudgama, after few days, I got the job of Raj Mistri in a construction site. This time, I had a jump in my earning @250 rupees a day. In spare time, I learnt the work of plumber with other friends. Slowly, I started doing this work on call basis. Sirji, you won’t believe within 5 to 6 years in Gudgama, I earned very good amount and I had savings too. The extra savings I used to deposit with my supervisor. I think during these years, I might have deposited not less than 30 thousand with him. I thought at the time of need, the money would be great help for me. My daughter had grown up. Her marriage was finalized. Father told me everything final, except the dowry they might demand. I said if other things are settled, then I would not let down the proposal because of dowry. I would try my best. They demanded a bike. I accepted and approached my supervisor for my money. He was reluctant to give my money at that crucial moment. I had arguments with him. He asked me to come to Delhi, I would give money. I came to Delhi, I attempted many times, but he had cheated me. This was one great mistake of life. However, by God’s grace, voluntarily one of my friends extended financial assistance to conduct my daughter's marriage and she is happy in her family life.”
A great contentment and sense of commitment was clearly seen from his body language.
He was uttering Gurgaon as Gudgama. Still, I had some anxiety to hear about his son.
“What is your son doing?”
“Sirji, since then I am in Delhi doing this profession. I have twenty rickshaw shared to my fellow friends. We’re earning good amount from this business. My son will appear for his 10th standard exam this year. I’ve only one dream, one mission that my son should not struggle like me. Despite of the best desire of my parents, they couldn’t afford formal education to me due to acute poverty. But, I wouldn’t let my son to face such a situation. I would allow my son to continue his study as much as he wishes. He also understands the way his father is working hard for him and his future. Sirji, by blessings of people like you and Almighty, he is also showing good results in the examinations. His teachers are very happy. Sometimes, I get angry on my wife, if something related to his study like books, copy and pen is compromised. Whenever, I get a call requesting for his school expenditure without delay I send the same. He had also controlled many of his desires unlike his fellow affluent friends. I am doing my duty honestly, rest what He desires!” He seemed to be very satisfied after such a long conversation with me.
“Your sincere effort and hardship will bring cheers for you. You’ll be proud of your son and reciprocating in the same manner your son will also take pride from your great sacrifice. Your life struggle is inspiration for many of us. We’ve to learn a lot from such instances. Never succumb to adversities of life, have patience, faith on Him, everything will be fine one day.”
Before taking leave of him, I added, “I’m truly overwhelmed to hear your story. May I know you name?”
“Sirji, I’m Bharat. You can enquire about me at that shop whenever you wish. I’ll get the message and come at your service at any moment.” Smiling, he moved away. ***