Name – Teja.
Age – He does not know.
Village – Udaipur. Rajasthan.
Uneducated, Teja arrived in Mumbai less than a week ago, he sells balloons to earn his livelihood. His friends from his village, who arrived in Mumbai much earlier than him, also sell balloons (and incidentally, Mithulal, an earlier young recipient of a used livelihood bicycle, is Teja’s pal and is also from Rajasthan, and they all live under the Bandra flyover on the pavement.) I found out because Teja mentioned how happy Mithulal was the day he arrived home, which is under the roof of their flyover bridge, with a bicycle to help him sell baloons!
Teja’s uncle, a hunchback, sells balloons and is his guardian, and he is standing in this photo on his left.
I asked Teja why did he come to Mumbai, what brought him here…?;
His reply – ‘Hunger. Both my parents are old, both work as day laborers building roads, laying stones, etc, on daily wages, earning Rs 150 to 250 a day. I have 7 younger siblings, 6 are sisters, and by the time they would eat their meal that my parents bring home, there was no food or hardly any left for me. So I migrated to Mumbai to find work to feed myself and my family; because I found out from my village friends living here on the streets that they are able to eat at least every day, one or three meals a day, by selling balloons. And I also want to send some money home to my family because my brother and sisters are very ‘small’ now.’
When Teja said ‘small’, he bent down and took his hand down to his knee demonstrating how old they are, meaning, how young they are is what I gathered by his innocent way of defining their age; someone defining age when he does not have or know the concept of “BIRTH-DATE-DAY” being illiterate!.
He continued – ‘I walk all over and sell balloons, and I look for children wherever I go, and I go closer to them in the hope they will buy my balloons. On a good day I make Rs 400 or 500, and on a bad day I make around Rs 100.
The bad thing about this trade in balloons is, if I don’t sell them in a day they lose air and get disfigured. No one wants anything that is not pretty.’
Thanks to Zulekha Shariff and Atif Parkar, because they donated a new bike to Rajkishore Varma, the beedi paan seller, Rajkishore gave us his old bike in exchange for the new, and his old bike we donated to young Teja.
Thank you Kohinoor cycles for the service.